Home » London Theatre Reviews » Play » Review of After You at Soho Theatre

Review of After You at Soho Theatre

Hannah Norris - After You 2019 credit Mark Gambino.
Hannah Norris – After You 2019 credit Mark Gambino.

Do you ever think back and wonder what might have been, if….? Like if I hadn’t moved to Lancashire when I was 14 or joined the RAF when I was 21, etc. I’m sure we all do it at some time or another but, do we ever look at our parents and wonder what their life might have been like if they had gone down different paths in their lives? No, me neither. But, luckily for us, Hannah Norris had just that idea and the result is her one-act play After You which is currently playing at Soho Theatre.

Written by and starring Hannah and her real-life mother Angela Norris, After You starts by looking at Angela’s early life. When she was 14, Angela was in the first-ever Australian production of The Sound of Music at Melbourne’s Princess Theatre in 1961. But, Angela’s career went no further than that and Hannah wonders if this is because of the social conventions of the time. Mother and daughter discuss this, from the audition process through to the run and their completely different reactions to performing on stage. This leads to a discussion about what happened after, running through both women’s lives up to the present day and even into the future. I’m trying not to give too many details of the talk between Angela and her daughter because, in many respects, it’s important to learn of their lives directly and particularly how Hannah’s impression of her mum’s life is conditioned by her own thoughts, hopes and dreams.

I must admit, I wasn’t sure how After You was going to pan out. A whole hour of two people navel-gazing about the way life had been unfair to one didn’t sound like much fun. In fact, the hour-long show was nothing like that. Hannah and Angela have put together a well-crafted script that takes the audience with them on a journey of discovery not only about their lives but also who they are as people. The writing is very naturalistic in style and there were times when I felt like someone that had popped in for a cup of coffee with two old friends who chatted, bickered, occasionally disagreed about memories but ultimately are totally devoted to each other. I really loved that Angela was happy to rebuke Hannah when the reminiscing took a wrong turn – such as what happened after the Sound of Music – and the methods used to indicate that Angela didn’t want to talk about something, including, some excellent excuses, beautifully delivered by a handsome member of the audience.

Both Angela and Hannah really put everything into the show and, though I am not going to speculate on Angela’s age I was highly impressed with her energy. I’m not sure I could tap dance and Zumba that well right now, let alone when in the more mature years of my life. Costume-wise, the ladies were similarly dressed but maintained their individuality and their outfits for the final scene, and the surprise ending, was truly fantastic – I really want either of their jackets for this year’s Pride march.

All in all, After You is a labour of love for Hannah and Angela that really reinforces the strength of their mother/daughter bond without getting schmaltzy or cheesy. A lot is packed into an hour so the time shoots by, rather like life itself. At the end, I left thinking maybe it’s time I had a chat with my own mother about her dreams and aspirations as a youngster.

4 stars

Review by Terry Eastham

Hannah is an actor, with a life in the theatre. Nearly 60 years ago, her mum Angela was in the first-ever Australian production of The Sound of Music but the expectations of her generation, including motherhood, stopped her from pursuing that path. Now Angela is retired, Hannah is bringing her back to the stage – where she belongs.

After You is built from conversations this mother and daughter may never have had – and by looking into her mum’s past, Hannah is weighing up her own life, choices and what the future holds for them both.

A unique theatrical experience, After You is moving, full of love and will leave you believing forgotten and hidden dreams can come true. Featured in BBC2’s 2019 Edinburgh Nights. Following rave reviews at Adelaide Fringe and Edinburgh Festival, After You will be making its London debut at Soho Theatre.

Winner of the Underbelly Edinburgh Award in 2015 for the one-woman show ‘CUT’ with a return season at the 2016 Edinburgh Fringe and London season at The Vaults, the majority of Hannah Norris’ theatre work has been across the Australian stage. In 2017, Norris was a regular performer in ‘Sean Hughes’s Blank Book’ at Soho Theatre & The Gilded Balloon alongside top comedians including Adam Hills, James Acaster and Tommy Tiernan.

Written and performed by Hannah Norris and Angela Norris
Designer
Martelle Hunt

After You
Soho Theatre
https://sohotheatre.com
Age recommendation: 14+
Running time: 1 hour

Author

Scroll to Top