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  • Phoebe Robertson

Review: After the Storm

Picture Credit: After the Storm (Facebook)

Words by: Phoebe Robertson (she/her)

“We live in grief… how do you think we got here?” 

Emma Salzano's After the Storm was originally a project created at Te Auaha, then went through a development season as a Lift-Off piece, and now it's making its world premiere at the New Zealand Fringe Festival. And let me tell you, I'm thrilled that it's back.

It's been quite some time since I've seen a play that has genuinely touched me. And I don't say this to be disrespectful, but perhaps to acknowledge my own desensitisation towards such things. After the Storm changed that. Maybe I'm just a sucker for a good love story. But this play is more than just a romance; at its core, it's about grief and how our emotions shape our lives.

The story takes place in the 1930s and follows a group of Italian immigrants who leave their volcanic island of Stromboli and start anew on the shores of Island Bay.

I want to tell you more about the plot, its beauty and how it made me feel. But I think any further details would spoil the experience for those who have yet to see it with fresh eyes. So instead, I'll mention how Fynn Bodley-Davies (Armando) and actress Adriana Calabrese (Carmela) have beautiful chemistry together and how their love story grabbed hold of me completely.

I have to tell you about the stunning voice of Calabrese and how her duet with Rachel McSweeney was my favourite moment in the entire show. McSweeney, who plays stowaway Luisa, stole the spotlight with her outstanding performance. The way she stayed on stage throughout the entire show, waiting for her perfect moment to sing, was brilliantly executed. Her first song left me breathless and she only got better from there.

Playfulness was woven throughout the show by the talented ensemble. Their polished acting and contagious energy made it a joy to watch. This is also a testament to the direction of Leigh Evans. They seamlessly incorporated moments of humour into the narrative, adding levity when needed and bringing us back to reality when necessary.

Emma Salzano's original score was gorgeous and she shone as Musetta. The other actors also displayed beautiful choral movement, using lighting and sound to transport the audience into the journeys of these Italian immigrants. This story would be powerful anywhere in the world, but being so close to where it takes place adds another layer of significance to its telling.

The message at the end of the show is that “[love] cannot hide forever and we certainly cannot hide our love for eachother.” It felt exceptionally potent tonight. Rarely do I end a review by urging the audience to purchase tickets for a show, but today I am making an exception. After the Storm will be playing at Te Auaha from February 28th to March 2nd, and I strongly advise that you don't miss it.


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