Before this week, I'd only heard two Rolling Stones songs in my life ("Satisfaction" and "Miss You"). I was only eighty-five percent certain the band was British. I kind of thought Keith Richards and Steven Tyler were the same person. In summary, I knew as much about The Rolling Stones as your average Metyktire tribesperson. Clearly, I am unforgivably musically deficient. But maybe, just maybe, I'm the perfect audience for Signal Theater's affecting rock musical, "Aftermath."
A classic rock 'n' roll fable about a legend's decline, "Aftermath" traces brilliant but troubled Rolling Stones founder Brian Jones' descent into drug-fueled isolation. Posthumously narrated by Jones (a fantastic Aaron Snook), Ronan Marra's play is ambitious in intent, pleasantly unassuming in implementation. Though many scenes meander, and the interspersed songs slow the play's pace, "Aftermath" is more than the sum of its parts. While the witty script offers compelling character-driven dialogue, credit for the show's success belongs to its cast. Rather than doing an impression of an icon, Nick Vidal as Mick Jagger imbues the role with something all his own. Joseph Stearns' Keith Richards is both caustic and compassionate, and Nathan Drackett and Bries Vannon as the forgotten Bill and Charlie quietly flesh out the group. Snook's Jones however, is my new rock god. Raw and charismatic, he turns a sometimes vindictive womanizing addict into someone humane and sympathetic.
Although the show's written postscript seems an awkward choice, by "Aftermath"'s final rousing moments, I cared as much about The Rolling Stones as any longtime fan.