Brought up from an acclaimed season in Melbourne, another installation of Brisbane Festival's Under the Radar is Elbow Room's After All This. It's a puzzling examination of the afterlife composed of three different scenarios: two children talking about an up-coming nativity production, a disillusioned mathematician struggling with faith, and the ritual suicide of a charming cult. While they seem to be unrelated in narrative, they share the through line of discussing the afterlife.
The beginning is endearing and touching, focusing on two children who know too much about death and religion already too early in their lives, before we're introduced to the second segment which is absolutely baffling. It features a scientist and a mathematician examining the audience before Kathryn Marquet jumps out of the audience asking for money like Eliza Doolittle, who then converts into a well spoken religious figure. The final part involves a chorus of enthusiastic cultists who explain their plans of ascension to whatever lies after death. Who knows - maybe they've got it right and we're the crazy ones? It was so fast paced that I couldn't reflect during and after I wasn't really sure what I had seen.
With a chorus of artists including Emily Tomlins and Angus Grant there are a few solid performances, but there is so much guessing on what is actually going on throughout the scenarios it's pretty difficult to connect with any of the characters. However, the cultist segment was very entertaining and everyone delivers an eerie but entertaining performance.
Apparently Steve Toulmin did sound design but I can't remember any sound at all with the exception of a song at the close of the show. Kris Chainey's lighting was pretty non-descript too, some nice washes and a few LEDs but not much else going on.
The most thought provoking moment was actually during that wild second segment - the scientist points out that everyone considers themselves to be important, despite them being no different to other people. I've always pondered this because surely everyone thinks they are the centre of the universe at some point . . . really glad someone finally discussed this in some form, although as soon as the idea was presented it was gone.
The piece left me a little dazed. I wasn't sure what to comment on after it as finished, and I wasn't really sure what had happened. It has some solid performances and interesting ideas, however they're not discussed at great length or depth. But everyone else loved it and it's finished now, so that's that!
Duration of 60 minutes, no interval.