Peter Quilter’s farcical comedy, which has seen incredible success in Eastern Europe, was originally written with the central characters, who hook up after a night at the cinema, as male and female. In this London production of The Morning After at Above The Stag, and directed by Andrew Beckett, the whole thing is reimagined with two men taking the lead roles.
Shy but charming Thomas wakes up naked one Saturday morning in another man’s bed. It was a drunken liaison and he struggles to remember his partner’s name, but the awkwardness he feels is nothing compared to when his partner’s mother joins them for breakfast in bed. Thomas soon discovers that Adam’s family are very open and like to share, in fact Adam’s relationship with Barbara is certainly a unique one.
Yet, Thomas comes back, more than once, and the relationship between the two flourishes, as the family’s involvement becomes more and more preposterous. The Morning After is wonderfully funny, and it definitely doesn’t take itself too seriously. It has a kind of seaside postcard, Carry On type humour to it and you finally find yourself accepting the far-fetched nature of it all, in favour of just enjoying each over the top joke after the next.
The seventies style humour does start to lose its appeal towards the end, but by then you’ve become hooked in what is a surprisingly sweet love story. For Thomas to accept all the madcap craziness that unfolds around him, and not run a mile then you have to believe he truly does love Adam. Having never seen the original version, I wonder how on earth it works with a heterosexual couple, because it just flows so well with a gay couple.
At one point Barbara points out that people will happily talk about the holiday they’ve been on or the new car they have bought, but talking about their sex life is never an option. It’s quite an insightful moment really, and for all its bawdy and exaggerated humour, there’s a heart to this play if you just choose to look for it.
All the action (pardon the pun) takes place in Adam’s bedroom, and designer David Shields has created a boudoir that matches the play’s humour, floral pink wallpaper and a velvet pouffe create a sense that this is a house that is lived in, but the true meaning of home comes from the family which occupies it.
David Fenne and Chris Cahill as Thomas and Adam respectively, make a plausible couple in this implausible scenario, Cahill perfectly plays the laid back son who is clearly used to, and bought in to this kind of family life, which contrasts beautifully with Fenne’s uptight awkwardness. Collen Daley is gloriously outrageous as Barbara, only matched in the second act by Matthew Lloyd Davies’ slightly creepy Uncle Martin.
The Morning After may be played for laughs, but it manages to land almost every one, and a committed cast keep it all ticking along. This superbly funny play is an easy watch that has been adapted in to a modern farce.
Main Image Credit: PBG Studios