Science fiction is a rare thing to find at the Fringe; even rarer is finding it done well, but the Sundial Theatre company has little to fear with their latest offering, After the flood proves itself to be a wonderfully intelligent, thought provoking and very mature piece of speculative fiction that offers us a look into a dark and frighteningly plausible future.
he script does a very good job of world building, ensuring the audience is given all the relevant knowledge without lapsing into overlong exposition
Setting itself in an abandoned derelict hotel after the collapse of civilisation due to flooding and rising sea levels, the play follows a salvage crew, manned by teenagers, as they search for food and supplies, only to discover more than they bargained whilst the elements turn against them, and being forced to make horrific choices in order to survive.
The script does a very good job of world building, ensuring the audience is given all the relevant knowledge without lapsing into overlong exposition or “as you know” speeches that can suck the life out of scenes. We are teased with titbits of information that give us just enough to go on without spelling out the exact nature of the dark world our characters inhabit, keeping us interested whilst not getting in the way of the main story, and what a story it is, questions of survival, desperation, tribalism, and even gender are all weaved together and told through three dimensional characters that don’t lapse into easy stereotypes.
The young cast bolster these characters through stellar performances, which bring out the nuances and emotions of the text whilst being able to deal with complex character relations and difficult scenes that would even be a challenge for older actors, indeed I must confess I was surprised by just how well they carried themselves and they should all be given much praise for such fantastic performances.
Technically the show is remarkably resourceful, using mesh and wire to give the impression of bare industrial walls, whilst green and blue birdies on stage wash the action in the cold hues of the sea, demonstrating the ever encroaching water that surrounds the characters at all times. It is a testament to both the cast and the design team that despite the relatively small venue they are able to pull of complicated scenes, such as a very tense diving scene in the middle of the play, incredibly well particularly given the fringe setting with limited get in and get out times.
Any criticism I do have relate largely to the plot of the play, which at times can come off as a tad predictable, particularly towards the end, whilst the play’s conclusion leaves several threads hanging and can come off as a tad anti-climatic compared to the rest of the piece. These are however small imperfections in what is an otherwise stellar piece of theatre that can stand shoulder to the shoulder with the best of them. Any fan of post-apocalyptic or speculative fiction should definitely find time for After the Flood this fringe.