Reviewed – 17th April 2019
“Sharazuddin’s writing is sensitive and balanced”
We are all familiar with the potency of obsessive teenage love. But what happens when that love is slowly devoured by circumstance, leaving trauma in its wake? Does time heal everything, or are some wounds irreparable?
Such a story should be impactful, written with purpose and precision. It is best told by engaging actors who can deliver rich, emotionally charged dialogue. A bit of choreography wouldn’t hurt, either.
Iskandar R. Sharazuddin’s Post-Mortem unites all these things to tell the story of Nancy and Alex, a couple whose tender, obsessive love for each other declines in the face of tragedy. The carcass of their relationship rattles with secrets, but it isn’t until ten years later – when they are best man and maid of honour at their friends’ wedding – that they come to light.
Sharazuddin’s writing is sensitive and balanced, a mixture of dialogue and monologues that illuminate aspects of their relationship and character. The image of them meeting in biology class whilst dissecting a pig heart (which Alex can’t touch, apparently, for religious reasons) perfectly sets the tone for their relationship and its eventual disintegration. Metaphors – the pig heart, Nancy’s obsession with hoovering, the wedding sonnet – elevate their caustic, subtly humorous conversations.
Small details provide a deeper insight into the characters’ emotional cores. Alex worries that his peers will make fun of his Asian heritage and homemade biriyani; Nancy comes from ‘a family of liars’, including a Lithuanian grandma who sits outside McDonalds and shouts at people. This hints at their respective insecurity and secretiveness, however these threads feel somewhat loose in the tightly woven tapestry of the whole. I would have loved to have seen these instances revisited in later scenes, both for the sake of nostalgia and to assert the importance of these formative feelings in determining the course of their lives.
Nevertheless, this is compensated for by the evocative movement sequences, which enhance and bridge the gaps between the fragmented scenes. Performed across the length of a white stage, they are beautifully illuminated by subtle lighting (set/costume design by Eleanor Bull and light/sound by Will Alder). It casts their shadows across the high walls of The Space, making the movement all the more haunting and beautiful.
Sharazuddin also performs in the piece, alongside Essie Barrow as Nancy. The pair have strong chemistry, which is clearly expressed in the movement sequences as well as in the dialogue. They engage with each other and the audience; their frequent eye contact makes it seem as though they are talking to us directly. Sharazuddin’s Alex is sensitive, yet reckless, whilst Barrow’s Nancy is strong and decisive. Their character development is subtle and believable and leads to a satisfying conclusion.
The one disappointment with this performance is that it was not well-attended. It seems a shame that such a well-constructed show should go unnoticed, especially given the thought-provoking nature of its content. Once seen, this sensitive and profound show leaves an impression that is hard to shake off.
Reviewed by Harriet Corke
Photography courtesy Ellandar Theatre Company
The Space until 20th April
Last ten shows reviewed at this venue: