“After the Fall” Theater Review

“After the Fall” Theater Review.
“After the Fall” Theater Review.

“After the Fall” theater review at the Whitefire Theatre.
Written and performed by Johnny Ray.
Developed and directed by Jessica Lynn Johnson.

After falling from a burning building, Johnny Ray takes us on his journey of healing. With the help of friends and neighbors he finds his way again, eventually following his childhood memories and leading him back home to El Salvador. 

But, pain can be a cleanser, it can peel away the layers of our life that keep us from our purpose, our destiny.  Johnny Ray’s pain, both physical and emotional and his surpassing of it feels like a mythical journey.  A rite of passage, a burning of his life, literally and figuratively, and a rebirth.  It took him a while to find his way after the fall.  To understand the ‘why’ of it all. However, life isn’t like the movies, revelations don’t always happen in a flash of lightening and a beam of celestial light.  Although there is plenty of other worldly intervention in this play that’s for sure.

Johnny is clearly a talented actor. His performance is nuanced and authentic and he is a natural storyteller.  But “After the Fall” is more than just a recount of his experience escaping death when a small plane collided with his building.  

More than his vivid and compelling description of jumping three stories from his apartment window as his building burned all around him.  Johnny Ray takes us through the years “after the fall” as he recovered from his injuries, found his purpose again and learned how the people in our lives – family, friends and even acquaintances – create a world of meaning and love and support.

Solo work is a favourite of mine, something close to my heart.  So, each time I watch a courageous human take the stage, all alone, I hold my breath with them, excited, perhaps not quite as nervous, but maybe that’s why solo works so very well as a performance piece.  After all, we are all singular objects, even sitting together, as we hopefully will do once again soon, we are alone.  So we identify completely with those solo performers who take their fear with them and still perform their wonderful stories for us. 

Johnny Ray’s “After the Fall” is a beautifully constructed and artfully performed and directed piece of solo theatre.

Free of digital backdrop, or complicated musical or visual breaks, his story is stripped back, with only his massage table as accompaniment.  Given that his table in many ways saved him,  I loved this. It focused us on the man, his raw and extremely effective performance, his authentic, moving recount of his experience and how it has shaped him. How is has changed him. How it has changed his world. 

Solo work at its best holds us mesmerised while we travel though another’s life.  A short time spent with a human as they tell us how they came to this place in their life.  Sharing our stories is the most important thing we can do. Opening up, touching each others’ hearts, reminding each of us that we are individual, rare, special, but not alone.  What could be more important than that? 

I believe Johnny Ray is bringing his show to The Hollywood Fringe this year, so you should have the opportunity to see him perform this wonderful show again.  I highly recommend that you do!! Bravo!

Samantha Simmonds-Ronceros
Author: Samantha Simmonds-Ronceros

Samantha Simmonds-Ronceros is a British writer and filmmaker living In Los Angeles.