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July 22, 2014 | by  | in Arts Theatre |
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Second Afterlife [Review]

YOUNG AND HUNGRY ARTS FESTIVAL – 5 stars

Second Afterlife, written by Ralph McCubbin Howell and directed by Kerryn Palmer, was an absolute joy to behold. A modern, exciting quest narrative with intriguing, well-developed characters, Second Afterlife will totally absorb you into its bizarre comical world, which resides eerily close to our own.

Exploring themes such as internet privacy, social fads and teenage hormone imbalance, this play is all too relevant in the most embarrassing ways. My only critique of this thematic work was that it was certainly one for the internet fad followers and at time became too in-jokey, but this is unavoidable: long story short the only way you won’t enjoy this piece is if you’ve never engaged with social networking, and thus potentially don’t understand it.

The actors in Second Afterlife were incredibly strong, with a special mention to Mahalia Sinclair-Parker who absolutely owned the stage and bought the ferocity of a much older actress to her various roles. This being said the other cast members – Bronwyn Ensor, Michael Hebenton, Kieren Kleinschmidt, James Russell and Ruby Hansen – were similarly polished, precise, and had excellent sustained energy throughout. Above and beyond what talent and thorough rehearsal can bring, the cast also dealt with wigs falling off and various classic-opening-night-costume-mishaps with excellent jesting improvisation, which was a delight to see.

On this note, costume designer Chido Dimairo also deserves special mention for a myriad of beautiful and at times hilarious costume work. Alongside this the amazing specificity and sharpness of the projection design – Anna Robinson – and lighting design – Joanna Dibley – made the world of the play believable and crisp. The excellent colour scheme and costuming was very emotionally effective and made for a clear other world which we openly accepted and enjoyed discovering alongside the protagonist.

Sound design and performance – Philip Jones – was another highlight of this already solid piece. Performing wolf cries, charged live guitar, and warping and reworking established songs from the past, Jones bought energy, humour and warmth to the stage, while maintaining a comically serious expression. The directorial choice to have him be visible and perform live was a brilliant one, as we can see how artificial the world of the internet is, even as we are emotionally swept away with it.

On this note assistant directors Jess Old and Ryan Knighton must also be mentioned for their hard work in making this production so slick and clean, as well as Allan Henry, fight mentor and Andrew Paterson, Tango mentor, all of whom contributed to this being a hilarious, beautiful, and surprisingly poignant play. I left the theatre frankly wanting more, which is not to say it left anything wanting… it was just that bloody good!

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  1. Congratulations Second Afterlife! Fabulous Review! Sorry I missed the show – Truly! ;)

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