Lockdown review: Before After

Hadley Fraser and Rosalie Craig play Ben and Ami in this musical about love, loss and amnesia. It’s a common theme in entertainment – Random Harvest and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind are just two examples.

Here, the story begins on a hill where the couple reconnect. For her, memories flood back. For him, he remembers nothing about her. This musical, presented in “rehearsed reading” format, moves back and forward in time.

The musical feels inspired by Sondheim, with half-rhymes and modernist melodies. As an eighty-minute two hander, it packs a lot of emotion and exposition into itsshort running time. Art and love, family and trust, these are the big topics, addressed in song in solo and duet forms.

Filmed simply and elegantly in the Little auditorium at Southwark Playhouse, Before After places all our attention on the problems of these two people as they begin again. There is a whole lifetime of joy and pain packed into this tale, a snapshot behind the curtain of this couple’s life.

Hadley Fraser and Rosalie Craig

Written by Stuart Matthew Price and Timothy Knapman, this is a show whose book and plot speaks strongly to personal concerns of today. The togetherness of spirit, the warmth of first love, the need to be close to others.

Despite a couple of technical flibs, I was able to experience the full show on my TV, morrored from my phone. The wonders of technology, that we are all learning in these curious times. This show was clear, sharp and caught facial expressions and small gestures with style.

I do hope we can see Before After in a full production in due course. The hill, the gallery, and the flat demand to be seen – and of course I hope we can enjoy the glorious voices of Fraser and Craig in person once more.

Before After streamed live on 25 and 26 September. I viewed the final performance on a £10 early bird ticket. It was a production by The Grey Area Theatre Company for Southwark Playhouse, directed by Matthew Rankcom, with musical direction by Charlie Ingles.

Image credit: Southwark Playhouse

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