Sunday, August 23, 2009

NY Fringe Festival Review: Afterlight

Story Glows with Warmth

Presented by: Threads Theater Company
Writer: Monica Flory
Director: Misti Wills

Summary: Set in the “afterlight,” or twilight , this play is snippets of three couples’ lives, loosely connected by the recent death of a school bus driver.

Michael (Angus Hepburn) inexplicably hears sounds coming from under the living room floorboards and rips them up, much to the consternation of his wife, Louise (Kim Carlson). His behavior has been increasingly troubling, and the couple deals with that, as well as some repressed memories about the infant baby girl they lost 24 years ago.

Ann (Kimberly Prentice) awaits the birth of her second child and hopes its father, Hess (Frank Mihelich) will adopt Shane (Tyler Merna), her son by a previous relationship, after they marry. Hess can’t relate to the shy, intelligent boy, however. Meanwhile, Shane sees albino Monarch butterflies that no one else sees at his friend the school bus driver’s accident and later in his own bedroom when Ann almost loses the baby.

Dating teens Pru (Allyson Morgan) and Hunter (Davi Santos) meet in the graveyard, where they encounter a wolf. Hunter thinks the wolf is the spirit of the dead school bus driver. Pru thinks it’s the spirit of the father who abandoned her as a child. She sees butterfly larvae at the school bus driver’s funeral, where the couples finally interact (until this, each couple is featured one at a time, telling their stories on distinct portions of the stage). As the couples work through their relationships, wounds are healed.

• Hepburn as the humorously doddering, kind-hearted guy lurking beneath the guise of a curmudgeon in the making.
• Merna as the too-smart-for-his-age, but still young-enough-to-talk-back-and-whine kid which every parent in the audience recognized. He does a swell job for such a young actor.
• Director Misti Wills’ terrific use of a wading pool, a few boards, two benches and some fabric to create separate spaces for the couples on the same stage. Somehow, you’re sure that you see the whole room, not just a few props.
• Lighting and set design by Robby Bradley that creates twilight (there’s a lantern-like piece suspended on the stage which contains a glowing light reminding us of the timeframe), as well as general stage lighting that creates “afterlight” without leaving the audience in the dark as to what is happening on stage.

• The characters and story are quite interesting (it was inspired by some surreal photographs), but I’d love to see the script developed further. We don’t know enough about these people, why they are doing some of the things they are doing and the ending comes too abruptly.
• The multi-purpose benches serve well until the funeral scene, where only one is used to simulate an open coffin. Both placed side-to-side would be more effective and would eliminate jokes from exiting audience members about how the school bus driver must have been a little person given the diminutive size of the coffin.

Christians might also like to know:
• Some otherworldly qualities to the script involving the wolf and butterflies
• Threads theater Company exists to tell stories that start inclusive conversations about faith and grew out of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York. Visit them at

Fringe Tassels Awarded: 3

VENUE #14: The Cherry Lane Theatre
See it again Tue 25 @ 5:45
--Lauren Yarger

1 comment:

Misti said...

Thanks Lauren! We always enjoy your attendance!
Create A Buzz About Your Book
Custom Search
Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists. Her play "From Reel to Real: The Jennifer O'Neill Story" was presented as part of the League of professional Theatre Women's Julia's reading Room Series in New York in February 2018.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (, an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She is a contributing editor for She previously served as theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer, Connecticut theater editor for and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

She is a Co-Founder of the Connecticut Chapter of the League of Professional Theatre Women.

Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She is a freelance writer and playwright and member of The Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association and The League of Professional Theatre Women. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists. She also is a member of the Connecticut Critics Circle. and the Episcopal Actors' Guild.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.


All material is copyright 2008- 2018 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact


Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle and The Drama Desk, the two professional critics organizations with journalists covering NY theater. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about (I review all Broadway shows and pertinent Off-Broadway shows), I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

All Posts on this Blog