There was a time immortality was the preserve of the famous. The rest of us were memorialised in the minds of friends and family, or in a few grainy photos.
But in the age of the digital self, could we all really have a ‘second life’, a virtual eternity?
This is the starting point for Beyond Belief, Tmesis Theatre’s latest wily and witty production, premiering at the Unity Theatre ahead of a UK tour.
Set in the almost here and now, and against designer Stephanie O’Hara’s sci-fi building block set of circuitry and screens, Beyond Belief is both the play’s title and the name of a Matrix-like company whose sales pitch offers a hereafter where “death is optional”.
While celestial heaven is overseen by a benevolent Elvis, there’s an altogether more sinister force lurking behind a virtual nirvana designed to appeal to the living such as widower Simon (Charles Sandford, exuding vulnerability and tenderness) mourning the sudden loss of wife Chloe.
What, they suggest, if Chloe (Elena Edipidi) could live on as a humanoid, programmed with memories collated from her curated online self? Elinor Randle directs, and Chris Fittock is responsible for the text. But like all Tmesis shows, Beyond Belief is essentially a collective endeavour, devised almost from scratch in the rehearsal room.
Rich with the company’s trademark sinuous sections of movement, and with a narrative which suggests the cast and team share a subversive streak, it provides entertaining – and disturbing – food for thought.