Reimagined for the stage by three of the industry’s brightest stars – writer Jack Thorne (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, A Christmas Carol), director Jeremy Herrin (People, Places and Things) and designer Bunny Christie (The Curious Incident of the Dog in The Night-time, A Midsummer Night’s Dream) – the production has been co-produced with award-winning theatre company Headlong, whose impactful productions (among them Junkyard and People, Places and Things) have seen Thorne, Herrin and Christie collaborate to critical acclaim in the past.
After Life is set in a bureaucratic waiting room between life and death, where the recently deceased must grapple with the question: if you could spend eternity with just one precious memory, what would it be? It’s a tricky, if not impossible, decision, but all passing souls must choose just one highlight from their life to be recreated for them like a film, in order to move forward into the afterlife.
Initial casting for the production includes: Olatunji Ayofe, Danielle Henry, Maddie Holliday, Togo Igawa, Anoushka Lucas, Kevin McMonagle, Simon Startin, Luke Thallon, June Watson and Millicent Wong.
Opening on Wednesday 2 June, After Life will be the first production to welcome live audiences into the National’s Dorfman auditorium since it was forced to close midway through its run of Clint Dyer and Roy Williams’s Death of England back in March 2020. The show will be performed to a socially distanced audience for the entirety of its run, which closes on Saturday 24 July.
On Wednesday 16 June, two weeks after the opening of After Life, a new production of Dylan Thomas’s Under Milk Wood, directed by Lyndsey Turner and with additional material by Siân Owen, will open at the Olivier theatre, starring Michael Sheen, Karl Johnson and Siân Phillips.
Since the first lockdown, the National Theatre has reopened its Olivier auditorium intermittently, with ill-fated productions of Dyer and Williams’s follow-up play Death of England: Delroy and Jude Christian and Cariad Lloyd’s Christmas pantomime Dick Whittington, both forced to close just nights after opening as a result of changing Covid-19 restrictions.
Of the reopening programme, the National Theatre’s artistic director Rufus Norris said: ‘It’s been an incredibly difficult year for theatre, but I’m delighted to be able to confirm our reopening plans today and to be sharing the news of our first two productions that will reopen the National Theatre in June… Both shows will play to socially distanced audiences and we look forward with cautious optimism to welcoming back larger audiences across our theatres soon.’
|What||After Life, National Theatre|
|Where||National Theatre, South Bank, London, SE1 9PX | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Waterloo (underground)|
02 Jun 21 – 24 Jul 21, Performance times vary
|Price||£20 - £60|
|Website||Click here for more information|