Theater: Before/After

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Title: Before/After
Cast: Hadley Fraser, Caroline Sheen
Seen on: September 28

Before/After is a love story told through music. Based on the book by Timothy Knapman, Stuart Matthew Price has put the words to music and created this love story of a musical.

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What two sets of audiences got to see on September 28, was the result of a 2 week workshop with the musicians and actors, where they explored the songs and text and presented what that resulted in. And what we saw – a tiny stage with a piano, a guitar, a cello and 2 actors reading from the script – was already captivating.

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The story of Before After is about a man and a woman, Ben and Ami, who meet one day on a hill top in the city. Ami knows Ben, Ben doesn’t know Ami. Ben was in a car accident a year and a half earlier and suffers from amnesia because of it. He doesn’t remember Ami used to be his girlfriend at all. He mentions getting headaches when he remembers things, and Ami immediately decides she can’t tell him. During the course of the play, we get glimpses into their relationship before and after the accident, until both become the same time and place. It is a lovely love story with some good humour, some heart wrenching drama, and a wonderful ending.

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Ben is played by Hadley Fraser, Caroline Sheen plays Ami. Both have earned their stripes on stage in musicals, and their voices were strong and versatile. Female voices are hard for me to listen to for a long time, my ears prefer lower tones, but Carline Sheen’s voice is lovely to listen to. She harmonises wonderfully with Hadley Fraser’s strong and deep voice. Never did they miss a note or not try and reach it. There were at least four raving applauses after a song. It was a joy to be able to hear them live in such an intimate setting.

The songs for this musical fit the story very well. They are never too “Disney” or too cheesy, but still have that quintessential West End feel to them. They flow nicely from spoken word into song and back, giving the whole play a good flow. Obviously it sometimes felt a bit clunky, mostly during the conversational parts, but it isn’t easy to deliver lines without being able to really act them out, so that didn’t bother me too much. Overall, it really whetted my appetite and I hope this becomes the fantastic musical it promises to be!

Rating: 8/10

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