Aftermath

Written and directed by Ronan MarraAftermath by ronan marra

Produced by Signal Ensemble Theatre

At Raven Theatre Chicago

Rolling Stones story of Brian Jones falls flat while the Stones’ music rocks

I must state up front that I was never a fan of the Rolling Stones so a play with music like Signal Ensemble’s Aftermath has a tough time getting me to like it.  Actually, the audience, made up of many old rockers, at the performance I attended seemed to love this show.  I didn’t but don’t let my lifelong dislike for the Rolling Stones music keep you from Aftermath. The show is for their fans.

Aftermath by ronan marra

Now, let me report on Aftermath as a theatre piece. Aftermath has many fine production elements. The actors do play the Rolling Stone music with skill and Nick Vidal not only looks like Mick Jagger but he sings his tunes with gusto. Joseph Stearns, Nathan Drackett and Bries Vannon deftly produce the Stones’ sounds. The music sets are the best thing about Aftermath.

Aaron Snook plays Brian Jones, the groups founder and original leader, in a state of drug induced haze throughout. Was Jones always wasted on booze and drugs? We see the zombie-like Jones playing the sitar and trying to influence the Stones to embrace more exotic Middle Eastern and other worldly sounds in an attempt to move the Stones from their unique rock sound to another style.  Mick and Keith were not too moved by Jones’ overtures. They did embrace some elements of Jones new passion.

Aftermath by ronan marra

We see Brian Jones as a mumble mouthed hazy person who moves and speaks too softly with his thick low class English accent.  Actually the authentic accents and the low speaking volume by the cast (exception Nick Vidal as Mick) made it hard to hear and understand much of the dialogue.  I was sitting in the third row audience right on the aisle and most of  Snook and Simone Roos’ dialogue was unintelligible. Speaking louder and a tad slower would help a lot.

We see Jones’ as a wasted, incoherent musician who is a violent womanizer who has lost any influence he may have had with his rock group. I fail to see Jones’ “lasting impact on rock ‘n roll” as presented in Aftermath. Snook presents Jones as an unlikable jerk who was tolerated by the group until his self-destructive behavior forced the group to cut him. Jones died in 1969 at the age of 27. I found nothing in Jones’ character, as presented here, to make me care about him.

Aftermath shows the group drinking and smoking pot as they mumble in their thick English accents. It also shows Jones abusing his girlfriend.  The story is a shallow glimpse into that troubled soul. We never learn what pain Jones was in that induces him to stay wasted 24/7?

Fans of The Rolling Stones will enjoy Aftermath – especially the work of Nick Vidal as Mick Jagger. The show seems to be a hit.

Somewhat Recommended

Tom Williams

At Raven Theatre’s West Stage, 6157 N. Clark, Chicago, IL, call 773-347-1350,  www.signalensemble.com, tickets $20, $15 students/seniors/ industry, Thursdays thru Saturdays at 8:30 pm, Sundays at 3:30 pm, running time is 90 minutes without intermission.