After

 

By Chad Beckimprofiles theatre

Directed by Matt Hawkins

Produced by Profiles Theatre

At The Alley Stage, Chicago

Compassionate study on the effects of unjustified imprisonment rings true

Profile Theatre’s leadership seems to find stirring new works to produce on their intimate Alley Stage over the last few years, Their latest find is a hauntingly power work by Chad Beckim, the co-founder and co-artistic director at New York’s Partial Comfort  Productions – After. This is a subtle yet moving drama filled with unique, mufti-ethnic characters each struggling with personal quirks. The play centers on Monty ( a subtly powerful performance by J.Salome Martinwz, Jr), a 34 year5 old single man struggling to cope with his pent up anger and his lack of basic social skills after being imprisoned for 17 years for a rape that he didn’t commit. DNA exonerated him. he can’t sleep, he paces the dinning room at his family’s home in Queens. His sister Liz (Alice Da Cunha) tries to make Monty comfortable but his shyness and pain leaves him estranged from society. We see the effects on family members when a person is jailed for a long period.  Monty is specious of visits from prison chaplain Chap (Foster Williams, Jr.) who tries to get Monty to talk to his accuser. Monty refuses.

Playwright Chad Beckim and director Matt  Hawkins have nicely paces the work early on so we don’t know exactly why Monty has such trouble coping; all we know is that something traumatic happen to him during his youth. After he  meets Susie (Stephenie Park), a quirky neurotic excessive-compulsive Asian-American at the local drug store, we see how shy and little-boy-like Monty truly is. He is overwhelmed with both choosing a new toothbrush and by Susie’s attention. Martinez evokes Monty’s awkwardness  effectively evoking empathy.

When Monty finds work in a dog saloon, he meets Warren (Gabriel Ruiz)-a Central-Asian Indian American who hate dogs and his father for making him run the family dog business. Warren’s passion is for developing computer games and playing chess.  He and Monty becomes friends with Monty displaying terrific skills at handling and training dogs. Warren learns to respect Monty and he advises him on dating skills.

The 90 minute one act is a haunting look at the devastating effects of  imprisonment of a youth, specially one who is innocent. Being robbed of one’s youth is could ruin most folks. Once released, we see how difficult it is to cope with contemporary society. The pain and social scars Monty wears are heart wrenching. His is a good man with inter-strength lost in a world of injustice. His struggles to put things behind him and move on in life are emotionally rendered in this well-acted and finely written work. No cliches and no made-for-TV endings here. Only honest and truthful conclusions. Monty comes to realize that his lone skill and accomplishment in life was in training his dog – and that -is enough for him to realize that he is a worthy person deserving of a good life. His inter strength give him hope. After  features strong work from J. Salome Martinez, Jr as Monty with fine work by Gabriel Ruiz and Stephenie Park.  Once again, Profiles Theatre has mounted a stage worthy show.

Recommended

Tom Williams

Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast

Date Reviewed: September 5, 2012

For more info checkout the After page at theatreinchicago.com

At The Alley Stage, 4147 N. Broadway, Chicago, IL, call 773-549-1815, www,profilestheatre.org, tickets are $35- $40, Thursdays and Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 5 and 8 pm, Sundays at 7pm, running time is 90 minutes without intermission, through November 4,  2012