Teenage love is a messy thing. There’s the awkwardness of dating, the angst of unrequited desire, the devastation when it all goes awry.
It doesn’t get a whole lot better with age, but those obsessive first romances can be especially hard let go… especially when you are thrown together again 10 years later.
That’s the crux of Post-Mortem, a two-person play by London-based playwright Iskandar R Sharazuddin that uses physical theatre and dance to dissect the relationship of teenagers Nancy and Alex, who met in a biology class while undertaking their own disastrous dissection of a pig.
It’s all sunshine and rainbows at the start, as the pair flirt, laugh, share their dreams for the future and indulge in competitions to outdo each other with silly puns. Somehow, though, things fall apart and it’s not immediately clear why.
Now, at the wedding of a mutual friend, they’re reunited for the first time in a decade and the relationship post-mortem is inevitable – especially when they end up locked together in a bathroom.
Post-Mortem is an intimate performance presented by Sharazuddin (Alex) and Essie Barrow (Nancy) on an almost-empty stage. The dance element is integral; it’s helps to express emotion, as well as illustrating the passion between the pair and the push and pull of their relationship.
Sharazuddin and Barrow have a strong chemistry and there are some intense moments and heavy themes as long-held secrets are revealed, feelings are laid bare and each of their characters is forced to take responsibility for the actions of their teenage selves. The script also offers plenty of levity, though, with the Macarena a highlight.
The dual timeframes can occasionally be confusing and the segue from spoken word to dance doesn’t always feel smooth, but the performance is engaging throughout and Post-Mortem will strike a chord with almost everyone who has ever been in love – whether young or not.
Post-Morten is at The Studio, Holden Street Theatres, until February 23. It does come with some content warnings.
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