After the Cuts (Raw Material) - Edfringe Review

After the Cuts (Raw Material) - Edfringe Review
Political theatre is in. With a general air of political unease currently weighing down over the British Isles, this year’s Fringe is packed with angry, scared or satirical political theatre. But perhaps After the Cuts is somewhat different from the ever-expanding pool of (mostly shallow) attempts at political theatre. The set-up pitches a dystopia, albeit a strikingly possible one, where the NHS has been completely privatised, which certainly seems like a set-up to preach the government’s wrongdoings. But Gary McNair’s jet-black comedy treats this dystopia as a backdrop to a nuanced character drama between long-time married couple Aggie and Jim. When Aggie receives her cancer diagnosis whilst uninsured, Jim decides to take matters into his own hands, attempting to learn how to operate on his own wife.

“A beautifully written and performed exercise in effective political theatre”

Political agendas aside, After the Cuts succeeds in a number of ways. McNair’s script is far more about a longing for love and life, and the sheer desperation to save a suffering loved one than Jeremy Hunt’s government cuts. More importantly, both the script and performers employ impressive restraint, allowing characters to internally struggle but rarely express it externally. It becomes a drama which is almost absurd in its concept but deeply grounded in its emotion, which comes to a head in a gorgeous, tear-jerking finale. Throughout the whole running time, McNair develops this slow-burning, underlying emotion, but poses the whole play as a bit of joke. However, when it reaches its finale it becomes very apparent that this is no joking matter, producing a galling, spine-tingling experience. There’s a certain aesthetic flair to After the Cuts. With a backdrop of a series of mouldy screens behind the stage, including one completely broken one acting as a door, it establishes a definite dystopia. Particularly ominous is a large, dirty hospital curtain on one far side of the stage which acts as a constant reminder that this absurd concept is perhaps not a million miles away from today. Subtle, but intelligent lighting design combines with pitch perfect sound to aid the action in an unobtrusive way creating an overall experience which is deeply intimate. As Jim chats to the audience throughout the piece, it feels almost as if you’re crouched in the lounge with him, watching on through thick and thin. After the Cuts is a beautifully written and performed exercise in effective political theatre. Darkly funny, strikingly real and deeply emotional After the Cuts is a sure-fire hit.

5/5

Image: Raw Material Arts Ltd
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