After (Profiles Theatre): Martinez's Unforgettable Chicago Debut

After (Profiles Theatre):  Martinez's Unforgettable Chicago Debut

A lot happened from 1995-2012.  I can’t imagine having missed it.  Or can I?

Profiles Theatre presents the Midwest premiere of AFTER.  The good news is DNA proved that Monty is innocent.  The bad news is the exoneration came 17 years late.  Monty went to prison at 17. And now at 34, he is free.  But what does that mean?  And how does freedom happen?  Despite his sister, his girlfriend, his employer and his priest trying to unlock the answers for him, Monty is stuck in his mental captivity.  AFTER is a thought-provoking tale about being cheated out of ½ of a lifetime.   

Playwright Chad Beckim has penned an intriguing premise. The plot is compelling.  The characters are quirky.  Although Beckim uses detailed examples of how a ex-con would struggle in the real world with simple things like toothbrush selection, he lets Monty easily assimilate into a job and dating.  The new friends’ quick acceptance feels unrealistic.  Beckim glosses over the real outcast repercussions of *doing time.* Still, he provides multiple ramifications of false imprisonment and J. Salome’ Martinez, Jr. (Monty) walks the line brilliantly.     

Under the direction of Matt Hawkins, Martinez gives an emotionally-gripping performance.  Martinez outstandingly goes from containment to break-out.  He simmers and then boils over.  He desperately pleads, ‘this is not what I wanted.’  The words sting and my eyes water.  A woman in the audience whimpers.  We are all present in Martinez’s after.  He pulls us into his painful loss.  And we are helplessly caged up with him. Transfixing!        

Self-absorbed Gabriel Ruiz (Warren) and Stephenie Park (Susie) bring lighter moments to the angst.  Ruiz is hilarious as a frustrated gamer and dog hater.  And Park is weirdly endearing as a stalker-type.  Although their instant connections to Monty seem improbable, their supportive relationships are oddly sweet.  The characters are very indie film formulaic as peculiar-but-hearts-of-gold sidekick and love interest. Somewhat predictable but I enjoyed them!

AFTER is a heart-wrenching glimpse at a life lost.  J. Salome’ Martinez, Jr. makes an unforgettable Chicago debut with this show.  You’ll want to see AFTER so you know what came before Martinez’s next.       

Running Time:  Ninety minutes with no intermission

At Profile’s The Alley Stage, 4147 N. Broadway

Written by Chad Beckim

Directed by Matt Hawkins

Thursdays and Fridays at 8pm

Saturdays at 5pm and 8pm

Sundays at 7pm

Thru October 14th

Buy Tickets at www.profilestheatre.org

Production photograph courtesy of Michael Brosilow

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