Before After ★★★ Southwark Playhouse | Feb 7 - Mar 2, 2024

Before: Ami hasn't got a clue who Jackson Pollock is until she spills wine on Ben, a waiter who is also an artist. They become involved, but her reliance on her right-wing, disapproving father, plus Ben's indecisiveness and lack of ambition drive them apart. After: Ami now has an art gallery and Ben has amnesia. They reconnect, and she prepares to mount a show of his work. However, Ami hesitates to tell Ben that they have previously been in a relationship. While the plot is both simplistic and contrived, there is a sweetness to the story that shines through in the performances of Grace Mouat and Jacob Fowler. They bring a nice sincerity to their interpretations that make us care about this couple. The score is reminiscent of Stephen Sondheim and we couldn't help thinking of his brilliant meditation on creativity, Sunday in the Park with George. This musical is not nearly so ambitious, focussing on the love story and the possibility of second chances. There is no real standout song here, though Mouat's declaration of her intention to reveal the relationship to her father is a wonderfully powerful moment. The lack of microphones creates a nice intimacy and honesty in the singing, but it also reveals various limitations. The quavery notes and the insufficient articulation are all on show. The alternating between "Before" and "After" sequences doesn't really add much to the story, or provide additional insight into the characters. The device seems a bit affected, as if being employed only to add weight and interest to the standard, romcom narrative formula. The strength of Before After is the touching nature of the performances, and what hard heart can resist a love story that overcomes amnesia?

Rated: ★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Photo by Danny Kaan

Want to save on tickets? See our Tips page.

When, Where, Getting there:

Most Popular

São Paulo Dance Company ★★★★★ Sadler's Wells Theatre | February 9 & 10, 2024

The Hills of California ★★★★ Harold Pinter Theatre | Jan 27 - Jun 15, 2024

Naked Boys Singing, The Garden Theatre at The Eagle - ★★★★ - Until October 25, 2020

St. Martin in-the-fields: Lunchtime Concerts ★★★★ FREE

This Might Not Be It ★★★★★ Bush Theatre | Jan 30 - Mar 7, 2024

Bronco Billy – The Musical ★★★ Charing Cross Theatre | Jan 24 - Apr 7, 2024

The Handmaid’s Tale ★★★ London Coliseum | February 1 - 15, 2024

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie ★★★★ Sadler's Wells Peacock Theatre | Feb 8 - Mar 23, 2024

Colonel Saab ★★★★★ Trafalgar Square | 2024

The City Life Magazine | Reviews & Ratings