Lana Harper and Peter Howarth took on two equally demanding roles in the SUDS production of After The End: a chilling microcosm of society that explores two individuals trying to exert their authority during their close confinement of fourteen days.
The relationships of the characters created by the playwright, Dennis Kelly, give an interesting insight into human psychology. Louise is a stereotypically sophisticated and popular woman who is seemingly saved from a nuclear explosion by her work colleague Mark. Louise is taken to the bunker in Mark’s garden where they intend to wait out the nuclear fallout that has laid waste to all that they know. As the plot unfolds, however, it becomes clear that some secret overshadows their bleak situation.
In the first half of the play, it is Howarth’s portrayal of Mark that is the most interesting as the audience finds it impossible to determine if he deserves their sympathy or not. The power of the play is driven by the intensity of his performance; at times the audience feel sorry for him due to his eccentricities and isolation whereas there are moments that reveal just how unhinged he is.
The second half of the play shows a startling transformation in Louise; towards the conclusion of the play she becomes almost as psychopathic as Mark. Harper had everyone watching sitting on the edge of their seats because she displayed such emotional depth that it was often difficult to remember that she was acting.
The most striking element of this piece was the casts’ ability to switch from black humour to poignant or disturbing scenes instantaneously. That which would initially appear to be a comic moment would suddenly develop into a cold and meaningful one. There were shocking, graphic instances that made people want to look away but, just like any good horror film, they were compelled to see what would happen next.
Five weeks of rehearsals allowed both Harper and Howarth to pull off a challenging task.The actors’ impressive chemistry and their powerful performances allowed them to create an atmosphere on stage that was bloodcurdling to watch.
This profound production was testimony to the talent of SUDS members; it provided evidence that their work is something that all Sussex students should sample and support.