Anyone who can write a play, get it performed and get people to pay to see it has to be admired but with Andrew Olins' Life After, at the New End Theatre in Hampstead, I couldn't help thinking that someone should have put the brakes on the whole process before it reached an audience.
Life After is morality 101. Olins does get points for writing about what he knows. He's a lawyer by day and the central character of the play is Aaron, a fledgling city lawyer. Aaron has his conscience pricked when, on the day he wins big in court, he chooses to go drinking Dom Perignon with his boss rather than stopping to help an obviously distressed young man who hours later commits suicide.
The main problem is that it feels like you are being spoon-fed large, sickly doses of the moral of loving thy neighbour. The programme even has a list of what it calls 'The Golden Rules of World Religions' which are quotes from different faiths extolling the virtue, presumably in case you fall asleep and miss the point. (You'd have to have a pretty long sleep).
Coupled with a script that was clunky in the mouths of actors trying their best, stereotyped characters and a contrived and slightly ridiculous ending there is nothing challenging, thought-provoking, moving or even entertaining about this play.
The New End Theatre is lovely though (although there is an annoying hand rail which blocks the view of seat C5). The upstairs cafe bar is like sitting in a geriatrics cosy lounge with a mismatch of chairs in a semi circle and tea served in cups and saucers.
And I have to thank Andrew Olins for luring me to Hampstead for the first time, such a delight of twee-ness I never thought existing inside the M25.
I'm going to give the play two stars out of five. It gets an extra star for the theatre.
There is a connection, which I admit surprised me: Daniel Gosling who plays Aaron's best friend was in the marvellous After the Dance at the National Theatre which already has 6DS link with Mr W via Pandora Collins who was in ...some trace of her.