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August 3, 2014 | by  | in Arts Online Only Theatre |
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Review of Second Afterlife, Young & Hungry festival

Second Afterlife, written by Ralph McCubbin-Howell and directed by Kerryn Palmer, is a coming-of-age story set in the age of social media. Built around an extended reference to Dante’s Inferno, the play’s narrative is a journey through the dark recesses of the Internet, the place where the drunken photos we’d prefer to forget lead on a ghostly afterlife.

The protagonist, Dan, an internet-obsessed teenager just out of school, wakes up the morning after a wild party, and decides to purge his online past of annoying and embarrassing memories. But, in this era where the apparent opportunity to present ourselves to the world however we like conceals the enormous degree of control we have ceded to giant corporations like Facebook over so many aspects of our private and public lives, things are not so simple.

At first, it looks like a familiar quest plot; there are monsters representing various past online selves to be conquered, a romantic prize to be won. In the end, however, the all-too-simple and all-too-cliched romantic subplot gets satisfyingly subverted, while the monsters are defeated, but not in the way the audience might expect. At the very end, there is an important lesson about relationships for the self-absorbed Dan to learn.

The play is definitely a crowd pleaser; the script is packed with one-liners, and references to a multitude of internet memes get a lot of laughs from the audience. The fight scenes are well-choreographed, and the performances are strong, with not a weak link among the cast. The writing is tight, the plot does not sag, and there is plenty of action. The subject matter, it must be said, is not astoundingly original, but it is handled very well by the cast and crew, and the end result is a satisfying and well-crafted piece of youth theatre.

 

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