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Afterglow at Waterloo East Theatre | Review

Afterglow: Photo by Darren Bell
Afterglow: Photo by Darren Bell

This beautifully written, moving play was seen earlier in 2019 at Southwark Playhouse. For this new production the script has been tightened and it is now one of the best ‘first’ plays by any playwright that I have seen.

Josh and Alex are a gay married couple, awaiting the arrival of their first baby, when they invite masseur Darius to share their bed for one night, with far reaching consequences for them all.

S. Asher Gelman based his play on his own experiences of an extramarital relationship which is probably why it feels so truthful. The three characters are all very believable and, being intelligent, try to discuss their problems in a meaningful way. However we, as an audience, can plainly see almost from the start how it is bound to end, even if the protagonists continually delude themselves. The dialogue is very natural – it is so easy to empathise with everyone here, especially as Mr Gelman uses silence to great effect to add to the emotion.

The play is superbly directed by Steven Kunis who ensures that each of the short scenes in which the play is structured moves seamlessly on to the next, continually building tension, occasionally relieved by humour and well chosen music. We quickly believe that we are looking through the ‘fourth wall’ at real people in real situations.

The cast all fit their roles perfectly: a true ensemble, used to working with each other and with obvious chemistry between them.

Peter McPherson is Alex, one half of the married couple: clearly someone who is crying out for a family. Adi Chugh is his partner, Josh – always craving attention and not realising that Alex is exhausted when he returns from work, and needs just a few minutes ‘space’ to recover. Darius, the 3rd side of the triangle, is played by Benjamin Aluwihare. All three have developed truthful, three-dimensional roles and are superb, especially in their relationships with each other.

Design is by Libby Todd, who has contrived to use the small space to good effect by getting the actors to quickly change the set to represent both Darius’ apartment as well as that of Alex and Josh, and a rooftop balcony. Very inventive but simple (even the working shower!) – what all stage design should be!

David Howe, the lighting designer, ensures that not only can we always see actors’ faces, he subtly aids the mood of each scene.

One review of the Southwark Playhouse production called the play “a steamy stripped-down look at gay intimacy”, but it is SO much more than that: it shows a snippet of real life and, at 85 minutes, is just the right length. I look forward to seeing the next play from J Asher Gelman, as well as these actors in other roles.

VERY highly recommended!

5 Star Rating

Review by John Groves

After it’s sold-out run at Southwark Playhouse, AFTERGLOW transfers to Waterloo East Theatre for a limited season.

Josh and Alex are in an open married relationship. But after young Darius shares their bed for a night, a new intimate connection begins to form, and all three men must search for one another’s notions of love, intimacy, and commitment. Will their search for passion and intimacy come as easily as their freedom to play around?

Heading under the shower together as Josh and Alex, a married couple in an open relationship who invite masseur Darius to share their bed for one night with far reaching consequences for them all, are Benjamin Aluwihare, Adi Chugh and Peter McPherson, with Kane Surry as understudy for all three roles.

Adam Roebuck
Aaron Quintana and Justin Coffman
present Afterglow
by S. Asher Gelman


  • John Groves

    John Groves studied singing with Robert Easton and conducting with Clive Timms. He was lucky enough to act in the British premiere of a Strindberg play at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe more years ago than he cares to remember, as well as singing at the Royal Opera House - once! He taught drama and music at several schools, as well as examining the practical aspects of GCSE and A level drama for many years. For twenty five years he has conducted a brass band as well as living on one of the highest points of East Sussex surrounded by woodland, deer, foxes and badgers, with kites and buzzards flying overhead.

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