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Sunday, March 17, 2019

AFTER by Michael McKeever - Bullying, Bystanders and Battling Parents at 59 E 59

AFTER is a compelling one act drama of 2 families confronting each other over the bullying of one son over the other at their school which leads to a 3 days suspension of the perpetrator.  This prescient play by Michael McKeever ("Daniel's Husband") deals with the issues of tyrannical treatment of students from their peers along with gun violence in schools.  The two boys at the crux of the embattled families are Kyle the oppressor and Matthew the injured party.  Neither are ever present onstage.  The attempts at civility between the parents Julia & Tate, Kyle's folks and Connie & Allen, Matthew parents following Kyle's "threatening text" is not unlike the farcical play "God of Carnage" of "The Slap" where the attempts at acting like civil adults regarding their children's conduct breaks down into unleashed hostilities & parental accusations.  Connie & Alan Beckman were asked to the home of Julia & Tate Campbell to discuss the matter in a friendly manner.  The Campbell's intent is to mitigate their son's actions from an incident of bullying to a prank.  The text wasn't meant as a serious threat according to the Campbells.  Tate states "teen boys do stupid things." The Tates want to circumvent the expulsion of their son.  Connie claims Kyle's threat to her son warrants Kyle's immediate dismissal.  There's a 3rd party dragged into the fracas Val, Julia's sister and acquaintance of Connie's.  Connie feels Val isn't an impartial "mediator" but concedes to letting her to be present.  The bantering & blaming between the parents is sharp, unrelenting & wickedly humorous.   The construct of the 1 Act is broken into 3 parts before, during and after the tragic incident.  AFTER is entertaining throughout.  The import of the play is to be an up stander rather than merely being a bystander.  An up stander is someone who sees what happens and intervenes or speaks up to stop the bullying.  The repercussions of enabling Kyle's bullying are catastrophic.  Parenting, gun violence & our political climate all weigh into this provocative, dark comedy with timely messaging.    

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