Intergenerational relationships are thrown into relief when a real-life mother and daughter and a real-life father and son act out exactly the same play as part of the same performance.
After, written by Craig Jordan-Baker, receives its premiere as part of this year’s Brighton Fringe. Syreeta Kumar and her daughter Echo and Tom Dussek and his son Dan will be the performers.
Craig explains: “It’s a tale of post-apocalyptic parenting. It features parents and children that are living after an unknown unspecific apocalyptic event.
“Post-apocalyptic shows are very big at the moment. We seem to be obsessed right now with imagining our own destruction!
“But the play is about how different generations communicate, and I guess the crux of the matter is that the parent knows life before the apocalyptic event and the child has no knowledge of it. As a result, they struggle to understand each other.
“The parent talks about film as being a moving image. When the child hears the word film, they think of a film on a stew, a film of grease. The piece is about how the different generations fail to communicate. It is using the apocalypse to talk about intergenerational conflict and comprehension.
“The same play is run twice in the same performance. W e have got two separate productions that go on one after another. We have got two directors, two sets of casts, but the same play, a real father and son and a real mother and daughter. It was quite difficult to cast, but I have worked with some actors for some years now, and you just build up a network of people that you can draw on.
“It is the intergenerational conflict I am interested in, how we understand each other, and it also connects with how the audience read characters. We often read characters quite unconsciously as to whether they are white or black or male or female. This is an experiment in casting different people so that we might understand our preconceptions about gender and race. The plays are put back to back so that we might challenge our own dramatic preconceptions about different people.
“I think we do have a lot of preconceptions, and because it happens unconsciously, we don’t have a chance to reflect on them. These are the ideas underlying the play, but there is certainly a lot of dark comedy going on front and centre of the work. I would call it a dark comedy, perhaps even a black comedy of intergenerational differences, something we see a lot in British comedy. It is like a dark and twisted version of Steptoe and Son!”
Performances: Rialto Theatre, May 10, 6.45pm; May 11, 6.45pm; May 12, 6.45pm; and Brighton Spiegeltent, May 28, 6.30pm.
For other stories by Phil, see: https://www.chichester.co.uk/author/Phil.Hewitt2