Tag Archives: Chris Cahill

The Morning After

The Morning After

Above the Stag

The Morning After

The Morning After

Above the Stag

Reviewed – 24th January 2020


“a play that sets comedy back 40 years and sends meaningful gay drama back to the Stone Age”


In the 1970s many television sitcoms attracted thousands of viewers, but today would probably be avoided and largely filed away under “embarrassing nostalgia.”

Unless they happen to be a devotee of Reg Varney or Jack Smethurst discerning audiences of today are likely to seek their laughs elsewhere, regarding those shows of yesteryear offensive and of their time.

Proving that this is not always the case is a play at Above the Stag billed as a “modern sex comedy.” The big problem with The Morning After is that it is none of those things.

There is every reason to hope Peter Quilter’s 2012 play would raise a titter, not least because of the writer’s pedigree (his Judy Garland musical-drama End of the Rainbow was an enormous stage hit and indeed was adapted for the recent award-winning film Judy) and the theatre’s record of edgy and often subversive fare.

Originally written with a gay couple at its core it was difficult to sell, so rewritten with a straight couple and became popular internationally. Frankly, it is hard to understand how it could be celebrated in either form, but here it receives the premiere of its first intention.

Its admittedly awkward story about love, sex and relationships is somehow unconventional yet predictable, with two-dimensional characters struggling to be believable and falling at the first hurdle.

Played out on yet another excellent set at the theatre designed by David Shields, a bedroom in which we see people waking up in each scene on mornings over a period of time, what little humour is present (there’s maybe four or five laugh out loud funny lines) evaporates rapidly. The repeated theme of mum and uncle walking into the intimate goings-on of the young lovebirds becomes tiresome remarkably quickly and even sauciness with doughnuts and underwear can’t make a silk purse.

Three of the four-strong cast are from an offbeat family with no inhibitions, while the fourth is the nervous new boyfriend of the son. While the quartet do their best to be larger than life the play breaks all the rules of good situation comedy, in which the audience virtually feels they are part of the family as each sharp witticism is bounced into the story.

Chris Cahill (Adam), Colleen Daley (Barbara) and Matthew Lloyd Davies (Martin) go big and bold to find some level of melodrama, but it is impossible to believe that poor David Fenne’s Thomas would ever dream of staying around such an infuriating bunch of people rather than making a hasty dash for the exit, as we learn several previous boyfriends have done before.

Fine director Andrew Beckett tries his best to inject a frenzied energy but even his artistic skill is to no avail. Strong lighting (Jamie Platt) and sound (Andy Hill) cues can add nothing to the lacklustre script.

As you shift uncomfortably and look longingly at your watch there is then a shameful scene which essentially mocks someone’s deafness. This is not an oversensitive reaction, it is shock that any contemporary play or production should seek to find any humour in something so abhorrent and fail to recognise it. “It’s only a joke,” is ignorant evasion of an affront that needs to be called out.

If you want comedic satisfaction from eccentric families stick with The Simpsons or flirt with Outnumbered.

We have come to expect something far more challenging from this leading LGBTQIA+ venue. Far better to catch the engaging Four Play in its studio theatre than bother with a play that sets comedy back 40 years and sends meaningful gay drama back to the Stone Age.


Reviewed by David Guest

Photography by PBG Studios


The Morning After

Above the Stag until 1st March


Previously reviewed at this venue:
Title Of Show | ★★★★ | February 2019
Goodbye Norma Jeane | ★★ | March 2019
Romance Romance | ★★★★ | March 2019
Queereteria TV | ★★ | April 2019
Fanny & Stella: The Shocking True Story  | ★★★★ | May 2019
Happily Ever Poofter | ★★★★ | July 2019
Velvet | ★★★ | October 2019
Pinocchio: No Strings Attached! | ★★★★ | November 2019
Four Play | ★★★ | January 2020


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Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens

Union Theatre

Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens

Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens

Union Theatre

Reviewed – 18th May 2019



“Told in music and verse by the victims and culprits; the heroes and the cowards; the innocent and the culpable, the stories are heartfelt”


Originally titled “Quilt”, this is less a song cycle but more of a poetry reading inspired by the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, conceived in 1985 in San Francisco to commemorate the lives lost in the AIDS pandemic. With book and lyrics by Bill Russell and music by Janet Hood it attempts to show some of the sadness and horror that unfurled during the 1980s, but moreover the sense of community, hope and human spirit that always emerges from adversity. Which is what this outing at the Union Theatre brings to the fore. The impressive, sixteen-strong cast inject just the right amount of humour in order to quell the anger, and the result is a celebration rather than a rant.

Director Bryan Hodgson has set the production at the Memorial Quilt (which has since moved from San Francisco to Washington) and has the cast add their own panel to the tapestry on Justin Williams’ simple but effective square-box set as they each tell their story, so at the end of the show we have the full picture. It is a neat, personal touch that, while obviously not matching the scale, reflects the ongoing ideology. The Quilt itself is the largest piece of community art in the world, with each of the panels the size and dimension of a grave. Still growing, it receives at least one extra quilt panel per day.

Like the Quilt, this is a piece that lends itself to continued revision and, as was pointed out in the final rather ‘happy-clappy’ closing moments of the show, the aftermath is still with us. Until that moment, the richness of the evening was intact, held together by the rich thread of the vignettes. Told in music and verse by the victims and culprits; the heroes and the cowards; the innocent and the culpable, the stories are heartfelt. To slip into a kind of evangelism slightly spoils the effect. It is always a challenge to get the balance right with this sort of theatre, where the message is as important as the means.

The cast members are all skilled hands at this balancing act; measuring out the moments of comedy with the right blend of darkness, and knowing when to ask us to take things seriously or whether just to delight us with a skilled offhand observation. Sometimes the sincerity of the performances were at odds with the slick, stylised lighting (Alex Musgrave) and sound design (Henry Brennan), but the commitment of the actors outshone these quibbles, and their belief in the material manages to rescue the show when it steers too close to sentimentality.

After all, they are here to celebrate, not mourn. And Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens at the Union does just that.


Reviewed by Jonathan Evans

Photography by Mark Senior PR


Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens

Union Theatre until 8th June


Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Twang!! | ★★★★ | April 2018
H.R.Haitch | ★★★★ | May 2018
It’s Only Life | ★★★★ | June 2018
Around the World in Eighty Days | ★★★ | August 2018
Midnight | ★★★★★ | September 2018
Brass | ★★★★ | November 2018
Striking 12 | ★★★★ | December 2018
An Enemy of the People | ★★ | January 2019
Can-Can! | ★★★★ | February 2019
Othello | ★★★★ | March 2019


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