AfterWords begins with Julie (Laura Lindsay) arriving at a waiting room to be processed into ‘heaven’ after she took her own life.  She has reached the afterlife and is eager to see her husband Derek who passed away many years before. But, even in death time doesn’t stand still, and Julie finds that heaven is not quite what she imagined.

The afterlife is often a tricky theme to tackle, largely because most concepts have been thought up before.  There is a lot here that is familiar, from the characters are all dressed in white to the heavenly waiting room.

However, writer Michael Hart saves the play from being too prosaic when he introduces the idea that when you go to the afterlife you become the age that you were happiest. This clever concept turns relationships between husband and wife, and father and daughter on their head. Julie’s discovery of what age her family chose to be is bittersweet as she comes to terms with.

Worth mentioning are: Ben Jewell as the jobsworth clerk - sarcastic, a little eccentric and often very patronising to the newcomers; and Adam Lowe, who plays the other new arrival to the afterlife. He has some great lines and smooth comic timing.

Despite its promise at the beginning, and its some nice touches AfterWords fails to fully engage.  The humour at the beginning turns a little bit too earnest, which in turn slows it down; and just like heaven it’s not quite what you imagined.

- Joanna Ing

(Reviewed at Joshua Brooks, Manchester)