aftercare preview

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Teri-Anne Teo on Remote Goat

Steve Lambert’s new play, Aftercare examines the tentacled nature of sex and its unforgiving grip on three lives.

The play begins with Paul (Daniel Howard) and Sam (Vanessa Russell), who are involved in a sadomasochistic relationship. Despite Paul’s dominant sexual role, he appears accommodating, rather than authoritative, in his delivery. His unlikely and almost, uncertain, sexual role is explained as it is revealed that he is used to being a submissive partner in his relationship with Lisa (Claire Amias), who completes the triangle. Exhausted by Lisa’s sexual demands, he seeks reprieve in Sam, considered a ‘novice’ in the world of S&M. Later, Lisa is suspended from her day job as a teacher and attempts to run away from her vice. Enthralled by the ritualistic expressions of their relationship, Sam convinces Paul to find his previous mistress. Sam is eager to be initiated into an S&M relationship with Lisa, while Paul tries to resist the sick, alluring draw of his torturer.

Howard excels in his embodiment as a beleaguered lover, bearing his scars with admirable wretchedness. Likewise, Russell successfully conveys a woman insecure in her self-perceived lack of experiential and emotional capacities.
Amias shone darkly as a strong force, driving home her character by seamlessly cohering a multi-faceted character – a historian, teacher, nurturer, dominatrix and victim. Never once donning a black leather jumpsuit or snapping a whip, Amias is chillingly frightening with her manipulation and superiority as a maestro at work, even at the brink of death. Amias slips into each role as silkily as the chemise she wears, which she sardonically likens to a ‘shroud’. She induces compassion for her plight, even as she lunges hungrily towards Paul, predator and prey at once. In Aftercare, Amias demonstrates a laudable confidence and strength in her execution of a difficult role.

We are left begging for more as the storyline develops, sexuality interwoven with tortured histories and genuine love. It asks the unasked: Why is it wrong to want to be marked? If this creates a transcendental love then are we all missing out? Where S&M is typically perceived as a taboo subject, it is placed starkly alongside issues that consume suburban life such as materialism, religion and education. There are hilarious moments to be remembered, where unlikely lines such as ‘Would you like a cup of tea?’ are thrown up after a particularly explosive scene, reminding us that perhaps unconventional sex shouldn’t be kept in the dark, or taken all that seriously.