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Alfredo Narciso gives an exquisitely nuanced performance as a man reentering society after a wrongful imprisonment in Chad Beckim's terrific new play.

Jackie Chung and Alfredo Narciso
in After.
(© Yindy Vatanavan)
A man reenters society after spending 17 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit in Chad Beckim's terrific new play, After., presented by Partial Comfort Productions at The Wild Project, which explores this scenario with both sensitivity and humor.

Monty (Alfredo Narciso) is having a hard time adjusting to life on the outside. He's uncomfortable sleeping in his old room that his sister Liz (Maria-Christina Oliveras) has fixed up for him. He has difficulty making his own choices without someone telling him what to do. He doesn't have the computer skills to manage some of the tasks at his new job at a doggy day care. And he's flabbergasted by the cost of a movie and popcorn when he goes on a date.

On top of all that, he's repressing a great deal of anger relating to his wrongful imprisonment, and has a hard time expressing his feelings. The only person he seems remotely comfortable confiding in is Chap (Andrew Garman), a priest whom he knew during the time he was locked up.

Narciso delivers an exquisitely nuanced performance, conveying his character's pain and confusion mostly through subtle non-verbal expressions. Since Monty is a man of few words, while many of the other characters in the play are chatterboxes, he spends a great deal of the time reacting to what those around him are saying. Yet, when he does finally lash out verbally, it's incredibly powerful.

Oliveras expertly conveys Liz's love and also frustration with her brother, while hinting at Liz's own personal unhappiness. Jackie Chung, as Monty's would-be girlfriend Susie, has a wonderfully vibrant energy that perfectly captures her character's potent mix of bravado and insecurity. As Chap, Garman gets across the priest's genuine concern for Monty's well-being mixed in with traces of guilt for not having initially believed in his innocence. Debargo Sanyal plays Warren -- Monty's employer at the doggy daycare -- a little too broadly, but he's very funny and establishes a believable rapport with Narciso's Monty.

Beckim takes his time doling out the necessary expository information, with each new revelation shedding further light on Monty's situation. Likewise, director Stephen Brackett takes things slow for the most part, but speeds up the pacing when appropriate. Both director and playwright are careful not to let the highly charged emotions that get expressed within the play to devolve into melodrama, instead crafting a richly textured production that audiences can savor.


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