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  WINDY CITY TIMES

THEATER REVIEW Afterglow
by Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times
2019-04-10

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Playwright: S. Asher Gelman

At: Buena Theater, 4147 N. Broadway . Tickets: $25-$40; PrideFilmsandPlays.com, or 866-811-4111 or 773-857-0222. Runs through: May 5

Pride Films and Plays is presenting Afterglow, a play about three men exploring their lives together.

The topic of two committed people having an open relationship is still a hot topic in 2019. Some people don't agree with it, some love the idea and some don't know how to navigate the situation—the latter being the case with the married couple in Afterglow.

Partners Alex ( Jacob Barnes ) and Josh ( Rich Holton ) meet a boy toy named Darius ( Jesse James Montoya ) and, after a one-night stand together, things get complicated really fast. The show opens like a dance to Des'ree's "I'm Kissing You" playing in the background while the three men make out. There's plenty of nudity during the course of 75 minutes—and it's tastefully done, thanks to the direction and blocking of David Zak.

It's a simple and concise piece that digs into heavy topics such as love, loyalty, sex, trust and parenthood. Based on the 2017 off-Broadway hit, Afterglow will make a London debut this June, so this is chance to see it in Chicago.

Overall, the cast does a good job portraying the characters. At the beginning there were some moments where it sounded like the actors were reading a script, but this smoothed out in the second half of the show. While the focus is on the main couple, it's refreshing to see the third party's perspective. ( Montoya does well depicting that role in the play. )

The set, costumes and music are all kept modern and make an expensive-looking production in an intimate space. A prop such as a vape pen adds to Afterglow's feel of being current and fresh. The soundtrack is a gay man's dream, with pop artists such as the Jonas Brothers, Lizzo and Jess Glynne setting the mood.

Pride Films and Plays continues to create a safe space where LGBT storylines and themes are depicted in smart and clever ways, avoiding stereotypes. Look for the upcoming one-man comedy Buyer & Seller, which is opening April 15.

Afterglow shines overall and is an enjoyable romp that tackles tough questions and topics that same-sex audiences will relate to.


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