Review: After You, Soho Theatre

Hannah and her mum both wear tie-dye t-shirts with a scrunchie in their hair. 

A fluffy string of fairy lights with glittering glass beads dangles from the ceiling. 

Angela Norris was Brigitta in Australia’s first professional production of The Sound of Music aged 14 and since has not performed professionally in anything else (until now). Hannah Norris, her daughter, is a professional actress. 

A raw and authentic script, there are moments when I wonder if the dialogue is improvised because of the lightness and relatability of the exchanges. 

A great deal of this piece focuses on the relationship between mother and daughter and the idea that Hannah has of her mother and her life thus far. Hannah mourns for a life that her mother lost on the stage whereas Angela exclaims that she got quite bored of it after a while. 

Hannah and her mum in some ways are very similar. Hannah and Angela both love dance: we are treated to spontaneous breakouts into routines when the show gets too stressful for Angela. Also, in Angela’s rendition of Climb Every Mountain we see the strength of stage presence that her and her daughter share. 

Yet Hannah, like many of us, pushes her ideas of the world onto her mother’s life experiences. Hannah believes her mum was forced to go to finishing school so that she would learn to be a ‘lady’. She also thinks that Angela’s parents forced her to not pursue a life on the stage.

However, throughout the show Hannah realises that she is unintentionally taking away her mother’s agency in the stories about her life and her conceptualisation of Angela’s life is far from the truth. 

Littered with small relatable generational jokes such as the trope of all mums being obsessed with Facebook (especially the quizzes) and Angela accidentally saying ‘slashtag’ rather than hashtag – the good natured ribbing between generations is a warm heart to this show. 

The true strengh of this piece lies in the relationship between the two women. Bouncing off each other, and nurturing one another before our eyes. This nurturing goes from mother to daughter and daughter to mother: we see two women whose depth of relationship and trust is strong and full of generosity and love. 

As Hannah says, we don’t have enough of these stories of mothers and daughters in the mainstream media. We hear a great deal about the relationship between father and son, as shown in many a TV show and play a la Jack and Michael Whitehall or anything by Arthur Miller. 

Men’s relationships whether they be nurturing ones, turbulent ones, or ones of emotional manipulation are at the forefront of our collective imagination. 

Thank you Hannah and Angela for bringing us a moving and wholesome evening of women supporting women and promoting the voicing of female stories.

After You played the Soho Theatre until 22 February. For more information and tickets, visit the Soho Theatre website.