Afterglow @ 24:7 Festival
All you need is love, The Beatles told us. But unfortunately sometimes love isn’t enough, as the characters find out in Afterglow, a new play from writer-actor Julie Burrow and Pull Your Finger Out Productions.
This is a story of Him (John Weaver) and Her (Burrow), who meet in a club and decide to go on a date. The relationship flourishes, following themes and feelings we are all familiar with: the fascination of finding everything out about someone, the thrill of shared affection, the meaning, purpose and promise that love gives to life. However, once the couple begin analysing what they have it starts to fall apart, with love fleeing from the light they try to shine on it. What at first was so easy is suddenly so difficult, with no real reason that either can identify.
In a play like this chemistry between the actors is imperative, and that is what Burrow and Weaver have – in plentiful supply – showing an easy charm with every shared touch and then allowing a distance to develop as the play progresses. Burrow is sharp and assured as Her while Weaver makes for a wonderful everyman in the role of Him, likeable and vulnerable. The closing scene in particular is a very strong joint performance, as their thoughts on the future are depicted with an aching uncertainty that gets you right in the gut.
Burrow’s writing is engaging, even-handed and has an eye for unusual details. Whether this is the way she describes His and Her bodies fitting together, the feel of fingertips or His' observation that his favourite place is “the middle of a tram,” Burrow's descriptions draw attention to things we all know but perhaps never notice. The story unfolds at a sharp pace, with the transition scenes – where the characters directly address the audience – working particularly well.
The set design is a study in multitasking, with a bed becoming both a beach and a woodland clearing, while a sofa is transformed into a slippery rock and a soft grass verge. Other directorial decisions, like having the characters undress one another at speed while talking about their mutual affection, were well judged and helped draw the audience in to His and Her world.
Afterglow is a familiar story told truthfully, with excellent acting and direction helping to realise a well-written script. Hopefully Afterglow will have a life beyond its 24:7 run, and we will be seeing more work from the promising pen of Burrow in the near future.