After Hours Theatre Company’s Por Favor is a heart-warming story that highlights the power of theatre and calls for availability of art classes in all schools, not just the richest.
A great reminder that we need art subjects and extracurricular activities available in schools for free, Por Favor is a heart-warming story that highlights the power of theatre and what it can give to people of all ages. Although the production lacks natural chemistry between actors, the script and individual performance offered by the actor playing young Jodie makes up for it.
Telling Jodie’s story, a troubled schoolgirl with little ambition in life, we watch as she waits for her friend to audition for the school production of West Side Story. Jodie’s discovered by the school drama teacher as the most talented actor he ever had – and from that moment, Mr Taylor becomes her support network as Jodie’s dreams change from becoming a nail technician to that of attending a drama school – a decision which also costs Jodie her friends and boyfriend.
The relationship between Mr Taylor and Jodie is written more beautifully than it is acted. While Jodie looks comfortable with her mentor, Mr Taylor often seems not to know how to ‘be’ around his student. Perhaps this is intentional characterisation, but I’m not really sure it lends the story much – and it was difficult to tell whether it was a character decision or the actor himself. The actor’s body language, for example, doesn’t always support the lines he is saying. This gives an awkward note to the whole performance of Por Favor, as it sometimes almost looks like the actor does not even want to be there, on stage.
Jodie, on the other hand, is played beautifully – with real talent shining through when her character takes on the role of West Side Story’s Maria. It is a pure pleasure to watch Jodie discover a passion for drama and, therefore, for life. To start having ambitions for the future, and taking control over her life. This young girl living with her foster parents, denounced by her school as an unworthy troublemaker, and with a circle of friends that give up on her as soon as she starts rising from the bottom, gives hope and, as stated before, calls attention to the importance of free art classes and after-hours groups in all schools, not just the richest.
Por Favor is a feel-good play that has a great script and a brilliant central performances. There are many things, most importantly a need to address the chemistry between the cast, that hold it back from being an altogether outstanding piece of fringe theatre. But nevertheless, the spark in Jodie’s eyes (as she decides to go to drama school and leave her troublesome past behind) makes it more than worthwhile.