UNO Fest 2017 – After The Beep
Review by Chad Jarvie-Laidlaw – Showbill.ca Writer
May 19, 2017
If you’ve ever wondered what listening to awkward messages you left on an answering machine would be like in your thirties, After The Beep, written and performed by Pamela Bethel, answers that, and doesn’t do much else.
Beep presents itself as a dissection of moments in the life of a teen, the replaying of messages left on Young Pam’s answering machine. The expected types of thing can be heard: jokes from friends, messages left from wrong numbers, affectedly aimless sentences from high school boyfriends. All this is presented with the aid of some graphs breaking down the who’s and whys of the callers and messages, with teenage anecdotes liberally cushioning the recordings. Unfortunately, that’s about all there is to the show.
An early aside features a quote from her father “I found a pile of jokes in my closet,” and that is how Beep comes across: a disjointed pile of things. Any hints of theme or through line are quickly moved past in order to tell another aside about high school life. Despite running commentary on the messages (which could have used some post-processing, if just for clarity), there is no feeling of getting to know Pam over the course of the performance.
Her delivery is flattened by the perplexing choice to remain seated behind a table for the entirety of the production, seeming more like a lackluster lecture than a piece of theatre. In the end, the show feels like it has been hastily work shopped in the last week or so, and seems out of place as a curated element in the festival.
The Bottom Line
While there are moments of humour and enjoyable awkwardness, After The Beep fails to meaningfully deliver on its premise of being a piece about the retention of memories, ultimately rendering it a forgettable experience.