“Have you seen Afterglow yet?” I was recently asked by two different friends in two different circumstances over the course of 24 hours. “You need to see it,” they implored. I took that as a sign.
When I first saw the marketing ads with three pairs of men’s feet sticking out from beneath bed sheets, I sort of rolled my eyes and considered it a gimmicky attempt at enticing the gay community. I read the tagline: the climax is just the beginning. I was certain it wouldn’t be worth my time.
I was wrong.
Playwright and director S. Asher Gelman certainly teases and titillates in his contemporary drama. As soon as the curtain rises at the quaint Davenport playhouse, the climax is, in fact, just the beginning. Underneath the scintillation, however, rests difficult complexities and conversations for the modern gay community.
Josh (Brandon Haagenson) and Alex (Joe Chisolm) appear to have it all: existing or promising careers, a comfortable Manhattan apartment, a new baby on the way–and an open relationship.
Enter Darius (Patrick Reilly), a young massage therapist who happens to be the latest fling for Josh and Alex. The trio continue their trysts with harmless, wild abandon until Josh and Darius nurture an exclusive relationship.
Gelman’s play was inspired by his own experiences and many couples–gay and straight alike–may relate to the dilemmas presented here. His writing is thoughtful and realistic and he wisely refrains from proselytizing a single viewpoint.
Haagenson, Chisolm, and Reilly exude great acting and chemistry–a true plus when the script and story for the entire cast demands full nudity. Casting director Kate Lumpkin might have expanded the casting umbrella wider than its existing homogeneous Caucasian reach.
Nonetheless, Gelman has given us a refreshing play, replete with incisive ideas that will undoubtedly carry into the streets, beneath the sheets, and between lovers.
Afterglow plays at The Loft at The Davenport Theatre (354 West 45th Street between 8th and 9th) through January 14, 2018. For tickets and information, click here.
NOTE: At this performance, the role of “Alex” was played by Joe Chisolm. Robbie Simpson will play the role through November 19th and Chisolm will return after the 19th.