We live in a world where technology is changing the way we see ourselves and other people. The opportunities for anonymity, for secrecy, for deception are ever increasing and even those who are seemingly innocent can find themselves caught up in a web of lies. In Real Life is the story of one such person and one such internet-fuelled relationship. Based on true events it is a careful character portrait packed with insights into its little understood theme.
The story has something of a bipolar structure. The scenes in the daytime when the main character Alice (Aella Jordan-Edge) is not on the internet are quite funny and likeable. She is a normal girl with normal friends who does ‘something in media’ but in the night time scenes she inhabits her alter ego Anna. Here, desperate to keep up a dream world where she can say and be whatever she wants, we see the other side of this normal girl.
The performances of the three strong cast are fantastic. Jordan-Edge is thoroughly believable as someone who allows an innocent lie to spiral out of control and Elizabeth B. Harris as Jay, the female artist who Alice falls for, is subtle and endearing. Her greater need for the human contact that Alice tries to avoid is genuinely touching. However, particular praise must be lavished upon Jennifer Wakely whose multiple kooky characters were consistently funny and yet somehow very distinct.
However, the play was let down by some perfunctory injections of physical theatre. These, because utilised only rarely within the play, were highly jarring and offered nothing about the characters. Another scene that seemed to come completely out of left field showed Anna apparently getting beaten up by her friends. While I assume this was more of a symbolic set piece, the beating was happening internally etc., it didn’t work within the otherwise realist context of the play.
It is however a great play. One scene Where Anna takes semi-clad photos of herself while hiding her face to the tune of Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get It On is a near perfect moment capturing the notion of absolute honesty merging seamlessly into calculated deceit. Touching, funny and hauntingly truthful In Real Life is the real deal.