“They were all in the pub when the explosion happened. Louise wakes up to find herself trapped with Mark, who has saved her life. Mark, who has always been prepared for the worst, has everything he thinks they will need to survive; tinned chilli, Dungeons and Dragons and a knife – now all they need to do is to wait until it's safe to go outside. Can they survive the attack? Can they survive each other?"
Written By Tony, Olivier and BAFTA Award winning writer Dennis Kelly, After the End was a play Director Grant Campbell was keen to tackle from first seeing it 6 years ago at the Edinburgh Fringe. Admittedly, watching from an actor's point of view, initially he saw himself on stage but ultimately took the bold decision to make his directorial début with this gritty, dark and thought-provoking piece he'd fallen in love with. Having been involved with The Bookends Theatre Group for a number of years, Grant knew he had the support there to challenge not only himself but also the group's audiences with a play that he hopes will spark debate and conversation. "Written just after 9/11, the play feels like it has even more relevance to today's world. There is that global backdrop of East vs West but essentially it is played out in this microcosm between the two characters."
Actors Eilish Brand and Craig Carter were an obvious choice for Grant to play the two characters, Louise and Mark. Having worked with both on various other productions he knew they were up to the task, allowing him to shift his focus on to the unknown territory of directing. "What has been the most enjoyable and yet the most challenging thing thus far has been taking on this play as a director and not as an actor-although it's helpful to have that perspective. I had such a clear idea of how I thought I wanted to do things before we started rehearsals but I've learned that it has to be about incorporating the actors' ideas as well as your own. Sometimes they'll suggest something that I hadn't even thought of and I love that team effort aspect".
The risk factor in producing After the End comes in the form of the adult themes and content throughout. Keen not to shy away from the physical element, for Grant it's about balancing raw, realistic and striking imagery with the no holds barred text. "There's a distinct turning point in the play where things quickly descend to what you think is the low point, only then to go further. I want to push the boundaries but always with the intent to make things feel visceral but not crude or shocking for shocking's sake"
Where we see two characters forced in to scenario fraught with tension, the intensity of the classic power struggle is increased ten-fold, leading to exploration of themes of exploitation and retaliation.
Whilst the audience are being pulled out of their comfort zone, thus too are actors Eilish and Craig who have taken on the gargantuan task of performing a two-hander, where neither character leaves the stage. In addition, the meaty text and themes make navigating the rehearsal process an arduous task at times, Craig explains-
"The latter scenes are so intense that it has been a challenge to shift from rehearsing those, to some of the lighter content. It's about getting back in to or out of differing mindsets". For Eilish tackling certain aspects of her character's journey has been an interesting process. "I was surprised at the scenes I found most difficult. When Louise wields her power over Mark, that shift in the relationship is an interesting one to explore".
"This such an important piece of theatre. People can be guilty of surrounding themselves with those who think they same way as them and the play forces you to reconsider what you believe to be so. It about not shying away from the big topics-this is not a fluffy show by any means but we hope people come to challenge themselves."- Grant
You can catch After the End at..........
East Kilbride Arts Centre
Wednesday 27th-Friday 29th September 2017
Tel Box Office: 01355261000
**Contains adult themes and content.