Brighton Fringe 2010
My Second Life
Broken Leg Theatre
Venue: The Nightingale Theatre
Festival: Brighton Fringe
With the internet becoming a large part of everyone’s lives (myself included), it’s inevitable that new pieces of theatre about this thematic will surface. In Broken Leg Theatre’s case, My Second Life manages to nicely bridge the gap, talking about and even taking place online, while also not forgetting that we are currently creatures with two lives: we need to see both sides of the coin to appreciate the story’s impact. This is nicely achieved here, with plenty of humour, although the story is a little simple and ends rather abruptly; one of a couple of flaws that hold this piece back from being a total success.
By introducing us to two unfulfilled lives, My Second Life immediately establishes its story-arc in the first couple of scenes: we meet two characters trying to escape from their own lives, spending more time and having more fun on the website Second Life than in their own existences. Their interactions, played as characters from the website (or at least in a stilted and semi-awkward way), becomes more real to them than their humdrum days at home and/or college, until issues in both of their lives lead them to an encounter. What should be an inventive look at the new lives the internet offers unfortunately never quite escapes from the basic cliches of such relationships and discussions around the internet: a shame, but not a huge stumbling block.
A special mention should go to the acting here, which is excellent: the characters are realistic and enjoyably life-like, contrasting beautiful with the moments when they interact online. The humour is well-observed and pleasingly well-delivered, especially from Andy Cresswell and Ben Pritchard as the put-upon off-line other halves: Andy in particular captured the stereotypical London builder excellently. The leads, Alex Packer and Jade Weighell, were also very solid, and their transitions from online to offline performance were highly detailed, especially in their accent work. All in all, the cast is what made this show come to life, and all deserve accolades for it.
In the end, the show was very enjoyable, and the simple story did make the themes easily comprehensible: that being said, I was hoping for a little more in a couple of fields. First of all, while the tech was accomplished and well-executed, it wasn’t that inventive or out there: for a show set half on the internet, one would have hoped that some new technology would play into the telling thereof: maybe having the Second Life scenes on Second Life themselves, or something similar. Also, the story seemed to end just when we hit the meaty section: the discussion of internet relationships, and the way they impact on real life. Instead, we were left with an abrupt ending, playing for a curtain call laugh rather than being true to the theme or the characters.
However, these are all little niggles: I can’t fault the production in huge ways, except maybe for a lack of ambition to tell the more complicated stories in a slightly more complicated way. Nonetheless, what is on display is well-performed and written, and a nice, simple look at a new area of our lives: a joy to watch.