AfterLife: if you see only one play this fringe...
A word of warning: it seems every year I review one play that turns into less a review and more of a fanboy gush. Last year it was the Jonno Katz comedy The Spy. This year it's going to be AfterLife, a flat-out superb piece of theatre.
First off, Candy Simmons is simply a great actor. Watching her work solo for 70 minutes is an acting class in a box. It's a rare treat to watch a performer this poised, present and confident at the Fringe level. The play presents us with three distinct American women from different eras and regions – an Appalachian midwife, a 1950's homemaker and a take-no-prisoners New York film producer - then subtly links them all together in the third act. Simmons' dialect work is effortless, mercifully, as that's usually the thing that can most easily take me out of this type of play. But she literally lives within this writing, testament to the sheer amount of work she's put into it.
AfterLife is actually returning here after a well-received but under-seen engagement in Studio 16 at last year's Fringe (where it also received a glowing review from Plank). In the interim the script has been tweaked and tightened, with a full 10 minutes being excised from where it was at a year ago. Co-written by Simmons and New York Playwright Chris Van Strander, it's a superb woman's work, economical and unsentimental, constantly surprising and funny as hell when you least expect it. It's easily ready for publication, and deserves to be an acting class staple. It's the type of monologue writing the women actors I know in town are always lamenting they can never find.
There's only a couple more chances to catch AfterLife in this run, but it's already well on it's way to nabbing Pick of the Fringe, which it absolutely deserves. See it while you can.
For showtime information go here.
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