Review - Before After - Southwark Playhouse Borough


Before After - Southwark Playhouse Borough

Following a live stream in 2020 ‘Before After’ is returning to the Southwark Playhouse for a four week run. This delightful two hander stars Grace Mouat and Jacob Fowler as Ami and Ben, a young couple who fall in love for the first time by a tree on a hill...or do they?

We learn over the course of 90 minutes that they met years ago in a restaurant, an incident with some spilled wine sparks a 5 year romance. The ‘Before’ scenes do well at portraying the ebbs and flows of a relationship. Grace and Jacob have perfect chemistry together and are believable in their roles. Jacob brings authenticity to the role of the starving artist Ben who struggles with the expectations Ami has of him.  Jacob has a beautiful soft tone to his voice which suits his songs perfectly.

The ‘After’ scenes show us that Ben in fact suffered memory loss following a car accident some years earlier. Upon learning this, Ami chooses not to tell him of their past relationship and instead takes it as an opportunity to start again – this feels like a problematic choice, as effectively she is gaslighting him.  I would have liked to have explored her motivations for this a little more. Grace does well at portraying the highly strung Ami, and brings her incredible talent to this role.  She has a voice that resonates through the small studio space, filling it entirely.

Moving through their story, none of the twists are exactly unexpected, the ending becomes clear about 20 minutes before which makes it then feel a little lack-lustre when we reach the climax of the story. Sadly, the songs feel as though they never quite reach their full potential and all sound very similar to the last. Although all performed wonderfully by the band and performers, none of the songs stand out as incredible.

This is a high concept musical, with a story that wouldn’t look out of place as a Hollywood film and feels that it is trying to be bigger than it is. It was a huge hit in 2020 but maybe this show doesn’t translate as well to real life as we would hope. With some refinements to the script and a more diverse sound to the songs this could be a successful show.

This show was reviewed on the 9th February 2024 at the Southwark Playhouse Borough where it runs until the 2nd March 2024.  Tickets available here: Before After - Southwark Playhouse

*** stars

Rosie Browne

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Photo credit: Danny Kaan