Review by Zoe Tidemann
Rumpus is always an exciting place to visit, in all the most excellent ways. Edgy and important independent theatre…new works…inspiring collaborations…evolving spaces…warehouse charm… what’s not to love?
And this offering from the award winning Wickedly Good Productions does not disappoint.
Pitched as a reimagined cult classic, immersive, innovative, multi-sensory and experiential, it has all the compelling markers that boundary pushing contemporary theatre should and the foyer of playful, curious, and supportive opening night theatre goers were totally there for it.
‘After All This’, written by Melbourne based playwright Marcel Dorney, is having its South Australian debut at Rumpus after first being brought to life by theatre company Elbow Room and debuting at the Brisbane Festival in 2011 to rave reviews. Since then, ‘After All This’ has been performed sparingly all around the world. Impressive Adelaide duo Caitlin Ellen Moore and Nate Troisi have been given a blessing from Dorney to reimagine this distinctive story. The work asks the existential questions that have plagued humanity since we were able to look upward with confusion: Do you stare into lights that are too bright, knowing you will be unable to see? Do you feel a need to be ‘other’ then as you are? Do you ask yourself what could be ‘After All This’?
There is a quirk to composing this review: I am hesitant to give anything away. A compelling part of this show’s charisma is its mystery. The term ‘spoiler alert’ doesn’t really work here, so I will attempt to honour the artists by maintaining this strange and wonderful haze while tempting you to get yourself to the theatre….
To begin this rare experience, the audience does not know who the cast is until during the show. They are not included in any marketing or available to check out prior to purchasing your tickets. (And you will not find their names in this critique, another morsel of temptation to see the show yourself…they are an impressive bunch on reveal!) On entering the doors at Rumpus, it then took time and searching for clues in the foyer to figure out the difference between audience and actor, a clever technique perhaps borne by the writer and realised by Moore and Troisi.
The then progressive audience experience was enhanced by cleverly curated design and technical elements. This is aesthetically articulate and satisfying work by first time creative technical designer Jacinta Way and a joy to experience. The storytelling was somewhat wanting in the design of the costumes, but perhaps this was a nod to the blurred audience/ actor lines…or perhaps it was budget constraints. It did little to take away from being impressed overall with Way’s inventiveness.
This joyous journey that the audience traverses slowly reveals- human by human- the gifted ensemble. Their aligned characters, and the speculative and uncanny stories they are responsible for sharing are drip fed to the audience as they are drawn through different worlds. The ensemble is all suitably absorbed in their roles while at the same time responsible for holding safe space for the audience and they do both with ease. And with a script that demands articulate attention so that the audience might follow its intricacies, each actor honours this with their craft.
This collective skill from the on and off-stage creatives ensured- from the first moments to the final black out- that the audience were actively engaged and indeed searching for clues and perhaps answers to what happens ‘After All This’.
Moore and Troisi are to be congratulated for leading a group of skilled, committed and creative theatre-makers to retell an intriguing series of stories in an intoxicating and radical way. It is a show that leaves fascinating images in the minds of the audience and thoughts lingering for them to unpack.
No doubt the work will tighten and strengthen as the season progresses and being there to support this production’s journey is strongly encouraged. A loud call to the arms of art comes from the director in the program notes which support the urgency to see theatre such as this- ‘Our community is only as strong as the support we have for one another, and in an increasingly isolating social climate, making the time to support anyone else is a radical act.’
‘After All This’ will show at Rumpus from the 4th- 16th of October.