Monty ( a powerful performance by Chicago newcomer, J. Salome Martinez,Jr.) was found guilty of rape, when he was a mere teen-ager. Now, after 17 years, through DNA, the state has agreed that he is innocent and has sent him home. He goes home to his family house, where his sister Liz( deftly handled by Alice Da Cunha)is the only family member remaining. His manner is hard for her to adjust to; he can’t sleep in his room, paces near the dining room window and has very little appetite. He is forced to assimilate into the world, but after spending almost his entire adult life behind bars, finds it difficult. Directed by Matt Hawkins on the very small stage at Profiles, on a set ( Dan Stratton) that is very minimal, but serves the purpose of moving the story from scene to scene with ease) this is a study into a man and what can happen when his life has changed for the better, or has it.

On Monty’s first venture out, to purchase a toothbrush, he meets Susie ( the adorable Stephanie Park, who tends to talk to fast at times) who he is attracted to and becomes his first kiss. He also gets a job working at a Dog day care center for a young man who hates being there ( Gabriel Ruiz) but befriends him and hires him. It turns out that while in prison, one of Monty’s positions was to help train a dog for the disabled- he has a way with animals, having more trust and faith in their nature over that of man. The prison Chaplain, Chap ( Foster Williams,Jr) is concerned about Monty and his re-adjustment. The woman that he was accused of raping wants to have some contact with him , probably to apologize and clear her head and the state wants to make restitution for the lost years of his life.He only wants to go forward, but is having  a tough time- he has never dated, never wore a tie, never had intimate relations and most of all, never had his youth. What we see is a man who is challenged in many ways. There is one more character in this well written play, Eddie(Carlos Rogelio Diaz) who was Susie’s boyfriend, hurting her deeply, who when he finds out about the relationship with Monty, beats him up, and Monty doesn’t fight back.

What happens after this situation is what makes this story one to see. The puzzle pieces begin to fit together and each character ( with the exception of Eddie) finds themselves changing and adjusting to the world they live in, or rather, the world they should be living in, and while Beckim leaves some loose ends, they are meant to be left, so that we as individuals can draw some conclusions that we would want to see for Monty, for Liz and for Susie. Will they all have happy endings? That will be in the mind of the viewer.
Bekki Lambrect’s lighting works the moods of each scene to perfection and Jeffrey Levin’s original music adds  a gentle touch. His sound is for the most part perfect with the dogs behind the door at the kennel very realistic ( there were a few miscues on opening night, but they did not affect the story as the acting was so solid) There is no actual credit given to the set changers who do a solid job of changing from scene to scene. I am hopeful that these are the interns, Carly Jo Greer,Grace Stratton,Joe Moore, Ben Hendren and Nate Dion- great job. If it was a different group of people, I thought your handling of these changes was clean and never lost my concentration in the story due to your seamless movement.

“After” will continue at The Alley Stage, located at 4147 N. Broadway through October 14th with performances as follows:
Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 5 and 8 p.m. and Sundays at 7 p.m.
Tickets are $35 for Thursdays and $40 for all other performances ( a great value for theater of this quality) and can be ordered by calling 773-549-1815 or Online at www.profilestheatre.org. remember this is an intimate venue ( about 60 seats) so do not delay placing your order.
There is some street parking, but the best way to go is the Broadway 36 bus ( at the door, almost) to see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to review round-up and click on “After”



Author: Alan Bresloff
Category: Theatre Reviews