Review: AFTER at Zoetic Stage

By: Nov. 02, 2016
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A True Theatrical Disturbance

The audience were barefooted when they stood for their standing O at the Arsht's Carnival theatre opening night. Why? They'd just had their socks knocked off by Zoetic Stage's production of After, Michael McKeever's world première.

In a tense ninety minutes McKeever tears apart five friends. They'll never be the same. And that's life. The end.

But don't pull out the hankies. Relish, instead, the artistry on stage.

Two couples, sort of friends, and a divorcée with two kids, in a luxurious home. Julia Campbell and husband Tate own the home and Connie and Alan Beckman are visiting, as is Val Wallace.

A visit with a purpose: The Campbell's teen son has sent a threatening text to the Beckman's son. The Beckmans want more than the proposed three day suspension. The Campbells blow it off as a schoolboy prank.

Using this simple set up McKeever eviscerates his characters. At the end of the two year span of After they have nothing left.

Julia (Mia Matthews) and Tate (Tom Wahl) are the epitome of old wealth. There's a stag's head mounted on their living room wall. Tate loves it. He's a hunter, and by God his father was a hunter, his grandfather was a hunter. He's a tall, elegant, educated good old boy sprawling on his couch, chuckling. Nothing is going to disturb his existence. And Julia is his fit mate. Blonde, willowy, expensively clothed, unable to think ill of her son. Awkwardly nervous with confrontation and needing the support of her friend, Val, (Karen Stephens) working mother, who doesn't want to get involved, but inevitably does so.

The Beckmans are not tall, nor are they elegant. Scruffy Alan (Michael McKeever) has just lost his job, he wants to talk things over, maybe compromise, but Connie (Jeni Hacker) lives with a violent rage. No one attacks her son. She demands her justice with screeching curses.

Stuart Meltzer has not only directed well, he's cast After brilliantly. McKeever's piece could easily slide into soap opera were it not for the depth of his writing and the skills of the performers.

The presentation of After has much to do with its success. The sophisticated, two tiered set in black and grays has the unusual effect of seemingly enlarging the entire Studio Theatre and the subtleties of the scene changes from Before, During and After add another dimension to the overall production.

Scenic design by Michael McClain, with lights by Rebecca Montero and costumes by Angelina Esposito. Director Meltzer also designed the sound.

After plays through November 13 at the Adrienne Arsht Center, 1300 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami. 305-949-6722

photo: L-R: Michael McKeever, Jeni Hacker, Mia Matthews, Karen Stephens, Tom Wahl


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