REVIEW - Captivating 'After this Plane Has Landed' in Moseley creates massive roar - The Bromsgrove Standard

REVIEW - Captivating 'After this Plane Has Landed' in Moseley creates massive roar

Bromsgrove Editorial 16th Jun, 2023 Updated: 16th Jun, 2023   0

THERE IS nothing quite as exciting for a reviewer than to be in at the premiere of a new show and be one of the first people to offer up their thoughts. Of course, for the company and most of all the show’s creator, it’s not just exciting, but a sack full of self-doubt that weighs heavily on creative shoulders.

Writer of All Things Spoken, Sung and Scored,  Adrian Kimberlin and his talented Director Alan Magor, have decreed that ‘After This Plane Has Landed’ will not pause for applause or breath from the get-go ‘til the closing moment when the actors have sung their final words and look to us expectantly.

The roar from the packed house said it all – “Yes, you do have one cracker of a show!”

Kimberlin has taken the real-life story of kidnapped journalist John McCarthy, held captive in some dreadful basement in Beirut and his girlfriend Jill Morrell waiting for news – any news – for five desperate years back in England and turned the events into a production which he has calls a ‘ musical dramedy’.

The plot explores a relationship in which both players are trapped in very different ways.

Feisty Morrell is aware that today’s news is tomorrow’s chip paper and goes on a relentless campaign to keep the plight of her man relevant. Ironically, she acts in almost the same way that Billy Flynn does for his cell block ladies in the musical ‘Chicago’. She rubs noses with the good and the great, appears on chat shows and forms a hardcore campaign group called ‘The Friends of John McCarthy.’ Enviably she becomes a celebrity in her own right (but doesn’t quite make it into the jungle).

McCarthy of course gets the rough end of the stick  – ‘taken ‘ on the way to the airport, bound, gagged and blindfolded then spends his days, nights, weeks, months and years in some nebulous hell-hole. His routine includes regular beatings, internal organ battle twixt

constipation and diarrhoea, killing mosquitos and marking off the days with a stone on the wall.

When McCarthy is unexpectedly released and the couple are reunited, there is piranha-like press frenzy – everyone wants pictures and gossip of the golden couple. However, when the flashbulbs pop their last pop, numbness replaces jubilation. The cement of fame crumbles and the gold tarnishes leaving them with that ‘after this plane has landed’ feeling.

Benedict Powell with his never-say-die cheeky grin gives an energetic and charismatic performance as McCarthy. He offers a very believable voice and reaches out to us emotionally.

Equally Claire Russell captures the story of Jill Morrell with many a turn of a Rubik’s cube to keep us purposefully distanced. Clever stuff this, as Russell gives us the whole gambit from girl next door to rock star.

Director Magor has balanced their story with a merger of the big three – sympathy, empathy and apathy.  Now we care – now we do not and – ultimately – erm, yes we do!

Kimberlin’s story ends where it opens with John and Jill on the Tube a few years after they have separated.

Clever title and the clue is there for us all to read. My feeling is that they are going to love this at the Edinburgh Fringe in August with its powerful, haunting songs and faction at its finest that still has relevance outside of its’ time and storyline.

There is naturally the odd clunk that needs smoothing before Edinburgh but there is also a very clever framework here to expand it ‘after the Fringe has landed’.

Well done to Producer Deborah Harries on mounting a magnificent social media (and beyond) campaign and to Rebecca Jones-Owen on creating a much needed new bijou theatre space in Birmingham.

Go and catch this at The Dark Horse (theatre) in Moseley  before it jets off to be seen by the Edinburgh Festival luvvies.

After This Plane Has Landed runs until Sunday, June 18. Click here for times, tickets and more information.


Euan Rose

Euan Rose Reviews 


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