Presented by Huntington Theatre Co.
Written by A. Rey Pamatmat
Directed by Peter DuBois
Review by Kitty Drexel
(Boston, MA) Huntington Theatre’s production of After All The Terrible Things I Do has a start so rough that it was surprising that it ended so well. Our first impression is of the glorious stage by Clint Ramos. The bookstore set where are heros interact evokes the recognizable bittersweet nostalgia of favored reading holes. There are nooks and crannies, patches of light and dark. It’s nearly perfect. All it needs is a fat tabby napping on a pillow of paperbacks.
Yet, one of the drawbacks of such a wonderful stage is its cavernous spacing. The cast was staged prominently staged downstage (6/13/15 edited to add: stage, stage, stagey, stage, mcstagersons), as close to the audience as possible, to counteract the dark, empty patches of the set but their energy still got sucked upstage. Their hard work was overwhelmed by the largess of the set. Despite their best efforts, Zachary Booth (Daniel) and Tina Chilip (Linda) couldn’t compete.
Booth and Chilip were clearly working hard to fill the empty spaces with their energy. Booth’s acting was subtle and better suited to TV or a more intimate stage than the Calderwood Pavilion. His Daniel was delivering a brave performance of a complicated man but the audience couldn’t see half of the work he was doing because of the distance between he and the audience. It was good work but not big enough.
Chilip’s performance was better suited to the Calderwood but her otherwise great performance was impeded by inaccurate application of aging makeup (forehead), and hair that more closely resembled a helmet than a wig. We should be focused solely on her wonderful, compassion-inspiring performance. Instead, these minor details were drawing our focus.
After All The Terrible Things I Do is extremely well-written. A. Rey Pamatmat gives us a story about two bullies so scared of their own actions that they enact the pain they’re trying to avoid. We learn a thing or two about people who do bad things as well and LGBTQ+ theory. We’re insulated books in a literal metaphor about hiding behind words even as the actors use them to hurt. It’s a funny and dramatic piece about being gay playing during Pride Week. This production should be excellent but it isn’t. It needs some tweaking.