Tag Archives: Jesse Fox



Southwark Playhouse



Southwark Playhouse

Reviewed – 11th June 2019



“shortcomings are largely made up for by three exceptional performances from the cast”


S. Asher Gelman notes that polyamory is a subject that’s seldom broached in art, and he’s not wrong. Luckily, his play Afterglow is here to remedy that, following a successful Off-Broadway run in 2017 and 2018, which bravely gives a voice and a platform to an often ignored or stigmatised type of relationship.

Centred around husbands Josh (Sean Hart) and Alex (Danny Mahoney), Afterglow explores the impact that Darius (Jesse Fox) has on their open marriage when their friends-with-benefits arrangement starts to develop into something much heavier with Josh, leaving Alex feeling excluded. The play’s frank attitude towards sex (it opens with a threesome and features a significant amount of full-frontal nudity) allows for a poignant and thought-provoking interrogation of love, intimacy, jealousy, and trust in non-traditional relationships.

Although Gelman’s script doesn’t always feel like it’s taking these themes are far as it could, however, it is well-paced and sporting a heft of relatable and quirky dialogue (for example, a running gag where Josh and Alex refer to their forthcoming surrogate child by the fruit that the foetus is currently the size of). The mechanics of the writing can be a little too obvious, as one character will contrive a reason to leave the stage just so that the other two can remain alone; yet it also never feels like Gelman pulls each thread enough to facilitate a truly satisfying climax. These shortcomings are largely made up for by three exceptional performances from the cast though, as the detail and nuance that their portrayals bring exacerbate the core themes in multifaceted ways. Hart and Mahoney deliver a beautiful domestic intimacy in their scenes together, with Hart in particular embodying Josh with a hugely endearing playfulness – one moment in which Josh mockingly hides from Alex under the pillows of a couch is utterly delightful. Tom O’Brien’s direction utilises instances such as these to excellent effect in fulling fleshing out these characters’ lives.

Libby Todd’s set design is immensely detailed – to the extent that it even features a functioning shower – with just three tables being boundlessly multi-purposed and garnished with a whole deluge of props. If anything, it’s too detailed though, as scene changes felt extraordinarily long with all the table-rearranging and set-dressing that had to take place. This was mired further by the fact that – due to the aforementioned nudity – these transitions also featured the actors having to get dressed and undressed. There was a noted effort to make these scene changes character driven, but they ultimately just felt fiddly and arduous, and subsequently killed the pace of the show.

Overall, Afterglow is a window into a lifestyle that is sorely under-represented and on that basis alone feels vital – it’s just a blessing that the play is also searingly characterful and ruminative too.


Reviewed by Tom Francis

Photography by Darren Bell



Southwark Playhouse until 20th July


Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Seussical The Musical | ★★★★ | November 2018
The Funeral Director | ★★★★★ | November 2018
The Night Before Christmas | ★★★ | November 2018
Aspects of Love | ★★★★ | January 2019
All In A Row | ★★ | February 2019
Billy Bishop Goes To War | ★★★ | March 2019
The Rubenstein Kiss | ★★★★★ | March 2019
Other People’s Money | ★★★ | April 2019
Oneness | ★★★ | May 2019
The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button | ★★★★★ | May 2019


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This Restless State – 3 Stars


This Restless State


Reviewed – 16th March 2018


“the tameness of the script fails to relate the depth of distress”


Centred in the present, ‘This Restless State’ steps back to the past and forward to the future to explore the idea of our attachment to and recognition of home, in an intertwining of three singular predicaments. The writer, Danielle Pearson, motivated by the Brexit vote, which fuelled a debate in many minds, aims to question the spirit of national identity and the conflict between political beliefs and personal feelings and how this alters from one generation to another. She also discusses the tensions between freedom and responsibility as we shape the future we want or accept what is happening.

Jesse Fox gives a touchingly honest performance in this one-man feat as he endears the audience with ‘his’ story. Struggling to make sense of the path he is taking in life, he has also to confront his own reaction when he returns to the family home for the last time. He intersperses his account with the narratives of two others – Margot in Berlin, 1989, whose world stops as she learns of the fall of the wall, and Galina in Rome, 2052 – devastated by an Inter-Continental war – preparing to vote in a Europe-wide referendum. He sensitively moves from one character to the other, building a defined quality to each situation.

Director, Jemima James, subtly guides us round the piece as the threads of the stories interlace, while the sound design by Ella Wahlström is strikingly evocative, bathing the stage with language and music. Ben Pacey’s unpretentious set creates a simple, homely atmosphere and his lighting daubs the different eras in their distinctive tones and effectively punctuates the changes of scene. Any moments of drama are created artificially by the expertise of the technical effects.

In making ‘This Restless State’ theatrical conversation or storytelling, our engagement with Margot and Galina, whose lives are portrayed, is not as strong as with Jesse who is recounting his own; the performance, therefore, becomes dynamically unbalanced and, in addition, the thought-provoking topics the play purports to raise are only touched on. The concept of the work is original and the linking elements are apparent but, although each is a poignant comment on the contrariety of our emotions, the tameness of the script fails to relate the depth of distress and it comes across as three wistful, intimate sketches.


Reviewed by Joanna Hetherington 


This Restless State

Ovalhouse until 24th March



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