Billed as Los Angeles’ steamiest show, AFTERGLOW lives up to its hype. Penned by S. Asher Gelman, who also directed the play, AFTERGLOW was a smash hit off-Broadway and in London and is scheduled to be performed in Madrid, Puerto Rico, and Buenos Aires this season. The West Coast premiere of AFTERGLOW is currently at the Hudson Theatre in the heart of Los Angeles.
AFTERGLOW explodes onto the stage as two, no three, silhouettes – seen through a subtle drape hovering over the bed – move to the timeless rhythms of sex. As the drape drops, the audience is offered the opportunity to meet the trio, Josh (Noah Bridgestock) and Alex (James Hayden Rodriguez), a married couple, and their newest and best friend Darius (Nathan Mohebbi). Apparently, Josh and Alex are a devoted married couple planning on introducing a newborn to their home in the near future. They are also in an “open marriage,” so that the occasional kerfuffle isn’t going to damage their relationship. Darius is a younger, more innocent version of the two – looking for love but finding only sex. A masseuse by trade, he has access to lots of bodies – but he craves an emotional hook-up, which has been elusive. Soon Josh decides to spend a little private time with Darius, and thereby hangs the tale.
AFTERGLOW is definitely an R rated party not for the kiddies. Audience Alert: Nudity abounds in this tale of love, sex, and betrayal. Skillfully directed by Gelman, who also functioned as choreographer and producer, the story is about the eternal triangle – but with a twist. All the parties involved are gay men. At some point in the account, Gelman begins to dip into profound issues at the heart of the play: Are sex and love mutually exclusive, mandatorily joined, or somewhere in between? To what extent does the brain define or limit the body’s passions? Where is the heart in all of this? Kudos to the trio of actors who bring the conflicts alive. They offer an intimate peek into what constitutes marriage, trust, and passion. And how easily all three may become intertwined – with consequences which no one anticipated.
This review would not be complete with offering uber-Kudos to the original off-Broadway production team also responsible for the Los Angeles production. Ann Beyerdorfer’s set design is spectacular, one of angles, mirrors, glass, and lights. Chairs, beds, tables, all become a lego-like foray into creativity. Everything on stage is convertible, expanding the scope of events to a mind-bending degree. There is even a shower to make sure that the play remains clean. Jamie Roderick’s lighting is phenomenal, creating cityscapes and starscapes with equal ease. Fabian Fidel Aguilar’s costumes appropriately attire the often nude principals. Alex Mackyol’s sound resonates through the rafters. Overall, the production is satisfying, entertaining, and intriguing as it explores the dimensions of love and sexuality. AFTERGLOW should garner international acclaim as it begins to cover the globe.
AFTERGLOW runs through June 19, 2022, with performances at 8 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays and at 7 p.m. on Sundays. The Hudson Theatre is located at 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA. Tickets are $45 (general admission) and $65 (premium admission which includes a concession item plus a souvenir program). For information and reservations, go online.