Preview: Dennis Kelly's After the End to be staged by both the Citz and Dundee Rep
When actors Jonathan Dunn and Nicola Daley take their final curtain call in June, they will say goodbye to After the End. But fear not. After the end of that After the End, it will be time for another After the End.
That’s because, in a rare moment of synchronous planning, both the Citizens and Dundee Rep are staging Dennis Kelly’s psychological thriller. In each case, the directors are making the most of the play’s bunker setting: in Dundee, James Brining will escort his 40-strong audience to a location near the theatre for an exercise in site-specific claustrophobia; while in Glasgow, Amanda Gaughan is using the intimacy of the Circle Studio to add to the intensity of her production.
‘The Circle Studio is great for something like this,’ says Gaughan, trainee director at the Citz. ‘The design and the dialogue are very realistic – it could be a film – and so it’s very tight and claustrophobic.’
First seen at Edinburgh’s Traverse in a production by Paines Plough and the Bush, the two-hander is a post-nuclear fallout drama in which a mismatched couple believe themselves to be the only survivors of a global catastrophe. When the well-liked Louise wakes from a concussion to find herself locked in a concrete shelter, she realises her survival depends on her oddball colleague Mark.
Combining the hothouse atmosphere of Big Brother and the lawless anarchy of Lord of the Flies, the play asks troubling questions about male-female relationships – and what happens after they turn sour. ‘There’s a real power struggle between the two characters,’ says Gaughan. ‘She is very strong within it, but the rules become skewed and the morals become off-kilter. Kelly creates characters who go from plausible extremes: they can show incredible kindness but also moments of horrible behaviour.’
Citizens Theatre, Glasgow Tue 17 May–Sat 4 Jun; Dundee Rep, Thu 16–Sat 25 Jun.