I’m a huge fan of apocalyptic and dystopian fiction. So when I heard about Here After, playing at the Toronto Fringe Festival, I thought the show would be right up my alley. I couldn’t have been more right.
The show, presented by Upstart Theatre, imagines a world in which human bodies can never die. Minds, on the other hand stop thinking for more than a few seconds, and they go completely blank.
Here After puts audiences in the world of four individuals who are trapped in an underground bunker – unable to let their minds rest for fear of “blanking”, and unable to leave for fear of the poisonous fumes enveloping the world outside of their shelter. And it’s been that way for more than a century.
Chiamaka G. Ugwu shines as Lily, the member of the group who tries the hardest to keep everyone happy, together, and – perhaps most importantly – mentally stimulated.
Elizabeth Tanner and Owen Fawcett, as Emma and Adam, handily provide the show’s emotional core, through their sharing of traumatic experiences in the new, harsh world in which they live. And Enzo Voci fully inhabited all three dimensions of Adam, whose playful veneer hides a sinister past.
Both written and directed by Meg Moran, Here After is a dark, chilling play, made even more immersive by its choice of venue. The Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace almost made me feel like I was in the bunker with the survivors, constantly oppressed by the sound of the electric generator, yet aware that its silence would mean death.
The only thing that felt strange to me was how long it supposedly took for the conflicts between the characters to arise. Each character reveals something about him/herself that contributes to the end of the play, and these revelations seem like the sort of thing that people would tell each other in the first few days in a bunker, not after an entire century.
Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment, but I honestly wish the show had been twice as long as it was, as it ended on a dark note (which I love!), and I wanted it to see how things would progress. If Moran expands the show into a two-act piece, I’ll be first in line to see it.
As things stand, I’m tempted to go see this production again, just to see how it grows over the next few performances. If you’re a fan of Oryx and Crake, the Fallout games, or unsettling, futuristic fiction in general, definitely go see Here After. You just might see me there.
Here After plays at the Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace (16 Ryerson Avenue)
July 03 at 07:45 PM
July 05 at 03:15 PM
July 06 at 04:30 PM
July 07 at 02:15 PM
July 09 at 10:00 PM
July 10 at 04:30 PM
July 11 at 08:45 PM
July 13 at 02:15 PM
LATECOMERS ARE NEVER ADMITTED TO FRINGE SHOWS. To avoid disappointment, be sure to arrive a few minutes before curtain.
Photo of Chiamaka G. Ugwu, Owen Fawcett, Enzo Voci, and Elizabeth Tanner by Madeline Haney