Theatre Review: The Morning After (Above The Stag Theatre, London) ★★★

The morning after The Morning After I was filled with questions, just like the play’s character Thomas who wakes up to find himself in a strange bed after a few too many drinks. While Thomas’ questions were more of the rudimentary kind (Where am I? Who are you? Where is my underwear?) mine were more about whether a bedroom farce works in 2020.

London can certainly do with a good laugh right now, so a light-hearted comedy like The Morning After feels like a good fit. It is a classic fish-out-of-water tale as Thomas finds himself thrust into an overly intimate family dynamic. Handsome pick-up Adam is cute, charming and very close to his mother. Very very close to his mother. 

David Fenne, Chris Cahill, Colleen Daley. Credit PBGSTUDIOS

There is something reminiscent of Noel Coward’s Hay Fever about the play, as Adam’s family seems to be playing with Thomas, and he can’t figure out if he’s being gaslighted or if Adam is worth the effort. It’s familiar stuff; a lot of sexual innuendo as doors are thrown open, and slammed shut again, with carefully choreographed physical gags.

David Fenne plays Thomas’ bewilderment and frustration with the over-zealous parental intrusions into the bedroom with a mix of manic fear and British embarrassment. Chris Cahill gives Adam an easy charm that makes the relationship believable and keeps the play vaguely grounded as some around him descend into parody.

David Fenne, Colleen Daley. Credit PBGSTUDIOS

While the machinations of the plot keep the couple together long after any sane person would have called it a day, the two leads hold it all together as the whole thing threatens to skid off the rails into pointless pantomime.

The script is an update of Peter Quilter’s original screwball comedy that featured a heterosexual lead couple. The gender flip works well and adds layers to the awkwardness, but the set up of the bedroom farce feels dated when given a contemporary setting – without the up-tight sexual morals of generations past, the embarrassment feels artificial.

The Morning After isn’t going to tax your brain cells, but it is entertaining in its silliness. And sometimes that’s all a play needs to be.

By Chad Armstrong

The Morning After plays at Above The Stag Theatre till March 1. Tickets are available from their website.

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