The Waiting Room short film review – An original idea delivered with a mix of drama and comedy, this thought-provoking short deftly explores love and loss.
Debra Markowitz’s unique short about an awkward situation in the afterlife is a light-hearted treatment of potentially dramatic material, brought to life by a solid cast.
Janet (Jennifer Jiles) has been dead for some years now, and is awaiting her husband, Tim (Ciarán Sheehan) joining her so that, we assume, they can spend eternity together. When Tim does eventually arrive, however, he does so accompanied by his new wife Ann (Heather Brittain O’Scanlon). With the mediation of the waiting room staff Keiran (Justin L. Wilson) and Angelique (Noelle Yatauro), the three attempt to reach a civil conclusion.
Given the heavy themes of the afterlife, love, and moving on after the death of a spouse, it is remarkable that Markowitz and her very capable cast manage to find so much levity in the situation.
Ciáran Sheehan as Tim delivers a solid performance and Angelique - a character designed to be comic relief – works well in the hands of Yatauro. Wilson has an excellent turn in a role that is effectively an afterlife couple’s counsellor faced with this semi-farcical situation. He embraces the chaos to begin with, eventually calming everything down and offering some of his angelic wisdom. O’Scanlon and Jiles as the warring women who eventually come to understand and accept each other are wonderfully over-the-top to begin with and, when the drama kicks in, they (along with Sheehan) provide genuinely moving performances.
As the story progresses, we see our characters’ attitudes towards one another change. The poignant dilemma that this film wrestles with is “moving on” after the death of a loved one. After some gentle coaxing, Tim reveals that he had continued to love Ann after she had passed away, something which he only fully realises in that moment.
If Markowitz was prone to melodrama, this revelation might lead to Tim and Ann riding off into the sunset to enjoy eternity together. Luckily, however, The Waiting Room is cleverer than that, and our characters come to realise that to move on after the death of a loved one does not mean that you abandon your love for them, you just make space in your heart for another.