POST-MORTEM @ The Blue Room Theatre gets 8/10

@ The Blue Room Theatre
Friday, January 24, 2020


This piece of physical theatre written by Iskandar Sharazuddin and directed by Jessica Rose McVay is witty, aesthetically pleasing and as magical as it is authentic… in fact, one could almost call it absolutely heartbreaking in its familiarity – if you’ve ever had a serious break up.

Non-linear, the plot follows Nancy (Essie Barrow) and Alex (Iskandar Sharazuddin) from their first meeting through to the present, travelling back and forth with minimalist, vignette-like scenes as the pair perform an autopsy, if you will, on the carcass of their relationship. With JUST the right amount of dialogue, each important moment in the story is punctuated by scenes of interpretive dance, perfectly complemented by impressive lighting design by William Alder.

There is clever use of colour changes depending on the scene (for example, light pink when Nancy and Alex are falling in love) to help guide the audience along with the minimalist script and time-travelling plot. At the end of the performance Sharazuddin informed us that this was the first day the tech operator for the show that night, Dominique Duvall, had even seen the lighting design, which was simply mind-boggling to discover given the precision and timing of the lighting transitions throughout the performance, and the impact it had on the overall quality of the show. It was effortless for the audience to follow the non-linear plot, with the occasional quick flashback, without any explanation from the actors or clunky signs or voiceovers, all because of the brilliant lighting design and the deftness of Duvall’s tech operating.

There are scenes where Nancy and Alex are in dialogue, but each character also gets monologues that reveal their personalities and inner-life, about what they want, their insecurities, and their regrets almost in a confessional style, the honesty of which is gripping and raw. The acting of both performers was superb, not only masterful in their physicality, but also for the timing of their delivery and the wholeness they brought to the characterisation of their roles.

This is clearly an exceptionally well-rehearsed show, the chemistry between Barrow and Sharazuddin is so believable as to seem like it must extend into ‘real-life.’ A highlight of the dialogue is definitely the ‘pun-offs’ between Nancy and Alex. This is incredibly intelligent writing, and the choreography isn’t overly complex. It’s real. Hearing their grunts and breathing as Barrow and Sharazuddin’s movement escalates adds impact to the action on stage. The sound design is minimalist but for a heartbeat that remains constant throughout the entire performance, and hearing this pulls at your heartstrings somehow, making you reel in empathy for the pair in front of you.

In a powerful combination of the comic and the tragic, paired with exceptional acting, a brilliant, understated script that evokes awkward but heartfelt British comedy such as The Office or After Life, completely spot-on lighting design as well as movement to add impact to the plot, Post-Mortem is relatable, touching theatre.


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