Chicago Theater Review: AFTER (Profiles)

Post image for Chicago Theater Review: AFTER (Profiles)

by Tony Frankel on October 17, 2012

in Theater-Chicago


It’s with good reason that Chad Beckim’s After has been extended at Profiles Theatre. Yes, Beckim’s script undoubtedly tries to cover too much territory as he tells the tale of Monty, who has been exonerated after serving 17 years for a trumped-up charge of rape. Yet even with faults in both the playwriting and some of the acting, I found myself thoroughly entranced by director Matt Hawkins’ production. Yes, most of Beckim’s characters come flying out of the gate with little room to grow, but they are richly drawn across a landscape of multiculturalism: Susie (Stephenie Park), the first girl Monty has ever dated, is a kooky Asian with a troubled past; Liz (Alice Da Cunha), like her brother Monty, is a Latino who has been struggling to exonerate Monty and now insists that he get his due; Chap (Foster Williams, Jr.) is the black chaplain who continues to counsel Monty upon his prison release; and Warren (Gabriel Ruiz) is the Indian who hires Monty to work at his father’s pet-grooming store. Just as the 34-year-old Monty acclimates to a world he sees through 17-year-old eyes, so too are each of the people in his circle struggling to find themselves in our modern, fast-paced environment.

Tony Frankel’s Stage and Cinema review of After at Profiles Theatre’s The Alley Stage

While there are oddities and inconsistencies in the actors – mannered, forced, amateurish, etc. – there is something in this cast that elevates the production to one we can actually care about: Love. Yes, as clichéd as it may sound, everyone, even those who assist with the rapid scene changes, seems to be looking out for each other. But it is the layered performance of J. Salomé Martinez, Jr. in the role of Monty that will have you mesmerized: fierce, uncompromising, and vulnerable, Mr. Martinez not only makes organic choices, but saturates his performance with nuance – there are conflicting emotions behind each dart of an eye and bending of a finger. There were a few forgivable instances when Martinez strained to recreate what may have worked for him in past performances during this run, but his is a monumental achievement. Also notable is Mr. Ruiz, who brings an nervous, edgy, and hangdog authenticity to Warren that validates the term “Being There.”

Tony Frankel’s Stage and Cinema review of After at Profiles Theatre’s The Alley Stage

Except for a questionable device towards the end that propels Monty and others around him to move forward, Beckim’s script and his naturalistic dialogue are engaging. This is one of those productions where I care about the characters, I care about the actors (even to the point of empathizing with one who fumbled some lines), I care about the story, and I care about the company (Profiles) so much so that any production and script imbalances are pardoned forthwith.

Tony Frankel’s Stage and Cinema review of After at Profiles Theatre’s The Alley Stage

photos by Michael Brosilow

Profiles Theatre’s The Alley Stage
scheduled to end on November 4, 2012
for tickets, call (773) 549-1815 or visit

for info on this and other Chicago Theater, visit

Leave a Comment