Published by Harvey-Berrick Publishing on March 15 2017
Genres: Fiction, Military, PTSD, War
Format: eBook, Paperback
I voluntarily reviewed an advance review copy of this book I received for free in exchange for my open and honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
iThis is the full playscript for LATER, AFTER with commentary by the writers, actors and producers.
Since being discharged from the army after tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, Alex’s life is out of control and he keeps people at a distance – even his friends. When Alex is arrested after yet another bar fight, he finds himself in a police station being interviewed by police psychiatrist Dr. Helen Ashton. As Alex's story unfolds, he tells Helen about his life of duty in a series of traumatic flashbacks. Can she help him find a way to navigate the unfamiliar, twisting paths of civilian life, or will he choose to sink deeper into a cycle of avoidance and depression? Is there a life for Alex, later, after the military?
A companion DVD is also available, filmed at the original London production of 'Later, After'.
Proceeds support Felix Fund, the UK bomb disposal charity
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The curse of my job is in the details.
I still maintain that what you were doing was worthwhile.
Yeah? Shall I tell you the rest? We left the scene in the hands of the Iraqi fire brigade. It came through later that they found no sign of explosives and there were two more bodies in the back of his car … he had his wife and child in the back. I mean what the fuck? Why didn’t he get out of his car? No-one blamed me for making the call, but I have to live with it. Rumour is he’d killed his family as you could still see the throats had been cut on the two corpses and he was trying to get us to finish him off; either way it’s not like the Iraqis tried to find out. Just another bullshit incident that never made the UK news. You people have no idea what it’s like out there.
We weren’t winning. It was all just fucking pointless. Why are we there? Can you tell me? Because I haven’t got a fucking clue. When I’m out there, I’m there for my friends, for the boots on the ground – no one else. And what have we achieved? Did we make the world any safer? Is it any better for anyone living there? It’s all been so fucking pointless. All for nothing. [Getting really wound up] The cunt politicians – where the fuck are they? Hiding behind their fucking desks and pointing their fingers at each other. We’re sent out there with second-rate equipment and… [Getting more and more wound up and anxious, shaking]
Alex! Alex! Stay with me. You’re safe now. Stay with me. Remember you are at a police station. Focus on your breathing…
Alex struggles to maintain his focus. Helen leans towards him; Alex leans away from her.
I think we should take a break now. Okay? Okay, Alex?
He’s angry that she’s seen him vulnerable and turns away from her.
I’ll get you some more water. Try to relax.
Helen stands up and exits room.
Slowly, Alex gets to his feet. He runs his hands over his face, stares out at the audience – uncomfortable eye contact. He stares around, finds the chair, and slowly sags into it. His head slowly sinks into his hands.
END OF PART ONE
Later, After by Jane Harvey-Berrick (with contributions by Mike Speirs) is a story/play written with purpose. The author’s notes at the beginning, as well as notes from Actors and Directors involved in the play are very important to the story particularly as something which is being read instead of being watched on stage to help readers establish a more emotional relationship between the characters within the story that would not be there if it were to be read without taking the time to understand the background behind how it came into being.
The story itself, being in script form, needs this “back story” to get a better feel for the characters. Making the story of a suffering soldier talking to a doctor in a police station much more meaningful. Alex has been arrested yet again after another bar fight, and is being interviewed by police psychiatrist Dr. Helen Ashton. During the interview, Alex tells Helen about his life of duty through a series of traumatic flashbacks. Can Helen help Alex find if there is a life later, after the military?
The character of Alex is both unique in his own right as well as very familiar. The attitude and type of humor that he uses is one that veteran friends also exhibit, whether they be Vietnam vets or from more recent actions in Iraq or Afghanistan. Later, After made me think of them the whole way through, and I appreciated that, as it gave me another way to picture, in some small way, their world. The character of Helen, though just meeting Alex and talking to him for only an hour is someone who truly seems to care about Alex and this would have been a very different story with a more jaded doctor, or one with more military familiarity, as this opens up the opportunity for Alex to explain his world in greater detail. She’s a good sounding board for him to tell his story to, and thus the audience as well.
In the end, Later, After by Jane Harvey-Berrick was a story I truly appreciated for the degree of effort that was taken to provide accuracy, both militarily as well as how much the psychiatric practice really just processes people through and even with a caring doctor it really takes a desire from the patient to work, otherwise it’s nothing more than two ships passing in the night. For all the Alex’s in the world, thank you. For all the Helen’s, keep trying. Later, After was an hour (in story time) spent in that world, for the real Alex’s and Helen’s this is every moment of every day. A very well researched and written script that I very much recommend reading.