AFTER YOU by Dave Carley, directed by Jane Carnwath, with Elva Mai Hoover, Meg Hogarth, Alicia Flaherty, Margaret Evans and Aaron Hutchinson. Alumnae Theatre (70 Berkeley). Runs to February 5, Thursday-Saturday 8 pm, matinee Sunday 2 pm. $18, Sunday pwyc, Thursday 2-for-1. 416-364-4170. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Age, they say, has its prerogatives, and in the case of the Alumnae Theatre 's After You , it also knows how to own the stage.
Dave Carley 's play about two cousins whose past and present lives are tied to a romantic summer experience on the Kawartha Lakes isn't a traditional memory play. Comic, touching, sensual and occasionally ironic, it shows us Jean and Adele in their 70s ( Meg Hogarth and Elva Mai Hoover ) interacting with themselves ( Margaret Evans and Alicia Flaherty ) half a century earlier.
As they wistfully recall episodes and sometimes try to influence the actions of their younger selves, the elder two approach reconciliation and an untraditional manner of caring for each other.
Director Jane Carnwath 's production moves the action smoothly between the two interwoven time periods, and Doug Robinson 's stylized cottage-country set and Michael Spence 's atmospheric lighting are additional pluses.
Ironically, Flaherty's young Adele, the more conservative cousin, has a charming exuberance and bubbly energy that Evans, who plays a budding and sometimes fiery socialist, fails to match. Both, though, understand the optimistic, callow nature of their characters, who assume that any ideal can be realized, even as they deal with a budding romance involving the attractive Paul ( Aaron Hutchinson ). What's not always strong is the emotional connection between the pair.
It's the two older women who know how to generate onstage chemistry. Loving and bickering in equal measure, the acerbic, take-charge Hogarth and more sensuous Hoover capture the heart of the show while they push their earlier selves toward hard-won truths, and sometimes relive pleasures through them.
As the young man who comes between them, Hutchinson has the right naíveté and sexiness, as well as a magical moment when, removing his baseball cap, he moves back in time 50 years.