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After This Plane Has Landed | The Space, Surgeons Hall (Ed Fringe)

After This Plane Has Landed’ explores the real life story of the kidnapping of journalist, John McCarthy (Benedict Powell), in war-torn Beirut, and the impact this has on his partner back home, Jill Morrell (Claire Russell).

Humour came from the immediate acknowledgement that the show was in fact a musical. Jill’s insistence and John’s reluctance was a funny contrast. I particularly liked the discussion over cutting ‘establishing’ songs, which was also beneficial as it created a good pace from the beginning.

Hopeful, catchy tempos leave me craving a soundtrack after watching this musical. I’d love to be able to listen back and be captivated in the melodies again. Upbeat tempos in the opening of the show encouraged me to have hope, and later the slower, reflective songs allowed me to focus in on the words. One of my favourite musical moments was John’s rhythmic movement to the sound of swatting flies- surprisingly satisfying.

In order to be more successful in telling this story, which heavily relies around John’s and Jill’s romance, the chemistry between the pair needs to be deepened. Especially noteworthy in the duets, I wasn’t particularly compelled to believe in their love. I believed in their conflict more than their romance.

The grief the pair face is clear, but the heart wrenching effect was not passed onto me as an audience member. The dramatic effect needs deepening, particularly in facial expressions, to have a more profound impact on me as a viewer. I understand that Jill is proud to create ‘The Friends of John McCarthy’ campaign. However, I wanted more sadness to be displayed. I wasn’t sure how much Jill’s emotions were genuinely impacted. If the decision is to be made that she is in denial, this needs to be portrayed stronger. Whatever direction the creative team decide to take, it would be great to make the emotional response more intense.

John’s coping mechanism seems to be humour, which is understandable given the circumstances. Ignoring the real impact his journey has had in him. The musical recounts his story, which almost acts like a flashback to John. I like the mirroring that this could be with PTSD.

After This Plane Has Landed’ has great potential if time is taken to focus on character development and portrayals. The core of the story, highlighting the impact during and after being a hostage, is a great foundation for a show. I think it’s important for shows to examine beyond the happy expectations and this exactly what this show aims to do.

After This Plane has landed will run at The Space, Surgeons Hall until the 26th August on selected dates. For tickets and more information, you can follow the link here.


{AD | Gifted} Written by Carly (@stageychaos)


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