THE MORNING AFTER
Blue Orange Theatre, Monday 23rd July, 2018
This witty three-hander first produced three years ago gets a welcome revival as part of this year’s Birmingham Fest at the Blue Orange.
Written and directed by Darren Haywood, it’s the story of Sam (Jacob Wright) who wakes up hungover to the realisation that he sent a string of regrettable texts to his girlfriend. Wright is wide-eyed, often horror-struck, a master of the comic reaction; you can see the cogs working in his befuddled brain. Waking up next to him is Niamh (Gabby Killick) a complete stranger. Neither she nor Sam has any recollection of the night before. It falls to Echo, the escort in the bath tub, to fill in the blanks – played with snarky relish by Lisa McKinley. McKinley is the perfect foil for Killick’s stuck-up drama queen. Level-headed Echo has all the barbed, deadpan observations, while Niamh excels at melodramatic outbursts and over-reactions. They are equally strong at opposing ends of the scale.
Caught between this virgin and whore, Sam is both mediator and target of the women’s vitriol, as the power shifts around the trio and allegiances are formed, broken, and re-formed in seconds.
Haywood’s script is quickfire. Every punchline hits home and is expertly handled by his excellent cast. He paces the action nicely, wringing the comic potential from every moment. Haywood keeps events within the realms of plausibility while keeping a steady hand on the helm. The playwright’s hand and the director’s eye are there, shaping the delivery, skewing the naturalism for the purposes of giving us a laugh. The humour largely arises from character, and the cultural references they make are drawn mostly from television, with the occasional classical allusion – Echo comes across as well-read, and why shouldn’t she?
The result is an extremely funny sixty minutes. It’s almost a contemporary morality play as Sam’s chickens (the way he has treated his girlfriend) come home to roost.