AfterParty – Space Triplex

Written by Rachel O’Regan

Directed by Hannah McEachern

Rating: 4 out of 5.

When all is said and done there’s only one constant throughout life – chaos. Whether it’s in childhood, adulthood, or at its sharpest just after leaving school, and one final hurrah is on the cards for these five young women before they take their conformed place within their set expectations. But who says that’s how it should be? And who dictates just how you celebrate your final night of freedom. F-Bomb Theatre, a fresh new production team, sticks two fingers up to anyone who tries to stop them. And the resulting AfterParty leaves ripples of prospect and rising performers on the field.

Lexi, much to her pal’s bemusement, has a plan. University is the ticket out of this poverty-stricken dump, where the minimum wage is what most can hope to aspire towards in the factory run by Ella’s father. But that isn’t going to stop her friends Ella, Corrie, and Jess from having one hell of a good night – fuelled with drink, adrenaline and a few unmentionables. The trio drags Lexi back into the halls of their recently departed school for an AfterParty they will never forget, no matter how hard they try.

And at first, it would seem stereotypes riddle Rachel O’Regan’s writing, with the scheming girl, the ditsy one and the daddy issues preppy one – and this couldn’t be more obverse. There’s a tremendously unexpected nuance to the character tying together the writing with Hannah McEachern’s directing. It offers fluidity, and though this comes as natural (to an extent) when working with a proficient team of performers, the blips in timing and pacing are largely unnoticed.

The three roles which could have been the worst, the one-dimensional, stride out as the production’s benchmark of humour and control. As rich girl Ella, and no hope Corrie, Annie Welsh and Kirsten Hutchinson make for a dynamic duo, who ignite most of the tension throughout the narrative. The expectations of character swept away by the earnestness in their tone and presentation, Hutinson’s bold grasp of humour and gritty reality a touching moment. And someone may wish to check Linzi Devers (Jess) breath – because that’s a little too convincing of a drunk. Jess effortlessly becomes a firm favourite – taking the easy to overact role of the klutz into a realm of genuine and lively.

Some tropes and signifiers give the climax away relatively early – a Chekov’s gun principle sets up the revelation for those who have had a keen eye, but it doesn’t detract from the narrative. It demonstrates the areas of a new production company finding footing, and if these are the issues to be found within F-Bomb’s outing, well, they’ve played a blinder of a game.

F-Bomb Theatre, created for women – by women, succeeds in tremendous avenues where others fail. AfterParty writes these young women as humans, as self-conscious messes who make mistakes and suffer the consequences – and what’s more, no characters suffer the stifling inaccuracies of being written as women and are instead written, as people, by women. In a glorification in fucking up, AfterParty speaks to the ruffled, punkish neo-nineties era for whom expectation is heaped, where a wealth of instantaneous gratification is at hand, but the opportunity remains in the hands of the affluent, the connected and the lucky.

AfterParty runs at the Space Triplex until August 28th on select dates. Tickets are available here.

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