BATS Theatre (Out-Of-Site) Cnr Cuba & Dixon, Wellington

18/07/2014 - 02/08/2014

Circa Two, Circa Theatre, 1 Taranaki St, Waterfront, Wellington

28/05/2015 - 13/06/2015

Young & Hungry Festival of New Theatre 2014 20th Anniversary

Production Details

Dan has done it all – Facebook, Bebo, Warcraft, that unfortunate foray on NZDating. Profiles, used and deleted. Now he’s ready to reinvent himself. It’s time for a new profile. However, there’s a hitch. 

It turns out there’s a Second Afterlife – a dark underworld of the internet, it is a very real and dangerous landscape of broken memes, deleted pages, and the ghosts of profiles past …

In order to forge a new identity, Dan has to face up to his internet history: the Bebo emo, Warcraft gamer, and NZDating casanova. They’re cooler, savvier, and shot from more flattering angles. And they’re not going down without a fight.

Second Afterlife is a dark comedy about life (and death) in the digital age. Inspired by Dante’s Inferno, and in the tradition of Scott Pilgrim vs the World, it is a twisted allegory for the facebook generation – a poetic, ass-kicking romp to the darkest corners of web.

6.30pm – Our Parents’ Children
8.00pm – Second Afterlife  
9.30pm – Uncle Minotaur
Season: Friday 18 July – Saturday 2 August
BATS Theatre, Cnr Cuba @ Dixon Sts
(no show Sun/Mon)
Tickets: $18 / $14 / Groups 6+ $13 / School Groups 6+ $10 
Season Passes: $45 / $36 / $25


Return Season of the 2014 Young and Hungry sensation!
at Circa Theatre – by arrangement with Playmarket 

“Ralph McCubbin Howell cements his status as one of NZ’s best young playwrights with Second Afterlife and director Kerryn Palmer, her designers and crew, and her exemplary cast of six do him proud.” – Theatreview

Second Afterlife
29th May-13th June 2015
Circa Two
Preview is 28th May
Tues – Sat 7.30pm, Sun 4.30pm. 

Bea:  Bronwyn Ensor 
Sadie:  Mahalia Sinclair-Parker
Dan:  Michael Hebenton
Simon:  Kieren Kleinschmidt
Ethan:  James Russell
The Guide:  Ruby Hansen 

Assistant Director:  Jess Old 
Assistant Director:  Ryan Knighton 
Stage Manager:  Esme Oliver
Set & Projection Design:  Anna Robinson
Costume Design:  Chido Dimairo
Lighting Design:  Joanna Dibley
Sound Design & Performance:  Philip Jones 

Thanks to:  Allan Henry (Fight Mentor) and Andrew Paterson (Tango Mentor) 

2015 CIRCA Season

Dan:  Michael Hebenton
The Guide:  Ruby Hansen
Bea:  Bronwyn Ensor
Simon:  Michael Trigg
Ethan:  Matthew Staijen
Sadie:  Mahalia Sinclair-Parker

Directors:  Kerryn Palmer and Ryan Knighton
Set and Projection Designer /Stage Manager:  Anna Robinson
Lighting Design and Op:  Tony Black
Sound Design and Op:  Philip Jones
Costumes:  Chido Dimairo
Producer:  TOMBOI Productions
Publicist and Asst Director:  Jess Old
Publicity Intern:  Patrick Jennings
Poster Design:  Erin McGarvey

Theatre ,


A play that will meme something to young people

Review by Laurie Atkinson 02nd Jun 2015

I doubt if the young cast of the excellent revival of the hit of last year’s Young & Hungry Festival will play to a savvier or more appreciative audience than the one they played to on Saturday night.

At least 85 per cent of the audience were senior secondary school students and they were watching a play that is about their alternative world of Facebook, YouTube, the web, memes and computer games. [More]


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Truly dynamic must-see production

Review by John Smythe 30th May 2015

The value of reviving good plays and productions is thoroughly proved with the second life given to Second Afterlife at Circa Two. Its highly acclaimed premiere in last year’s Young & Hungry Festival at Bats Out-of-Site had to be contained within an hour and the set had to be installed in 20 minutes max then struck in half the time.

Now excellent material in Ralph McCubbin Howell’s superb script has been reinstated (adding about eight minutes, I think). And Anna Robinson has been able to fulfil the potential of her cyber-space set design and the multiple images intricately projected onto countless small screens and other ingeniously manifested surfaces, with exciting results.

You just need to have ventured into social media and the odd gaming app a bit, or have people in your lives who do, to get drawn into the story because the highly recognisable human relationships impacted over the years by Dan’s becoming lost in cyberspace are a powerful counterpoint to the esoterica of his online life. Whether you recognise the brands and tropes or just see and hear all that as sci-fi jargon, you can relate to how it is the affecting the characters.

The four returning actors inhabit their roles with an alacrity we may readily ascribe to clicking ‘Refresh’ on a favourite site then playing on with the delight that can only come when the game is truly ‘in your blood’. And the two new actors hit the same level seamlessly. While each brings distinction to their role or roles, their cohesion as an ensemble adds huge value to the production.

As Michael Hebenton’s Dan tunes in and out of his real and fantasy worlds, his relationship with Bea, strongly yet subtly realised by Bronwyn Ensor, becomes a compelling through-line and end-goal. So the outcome is gripping for anyone with an ounce of romance in their bones.

As their flatmates, and classmates in flashbacks, Mahalia Sinclair-Parker’s Sadie captures the essence of a serial fad-adopter, Michael Trigg’s somewhat dorky Simon garners great sympathy and Matthew Staijen’s Ethan epitomises the enigmatic guy whose always being there is alternately reassuring and irritating. All three manifest online fantasy characters and YouTube memes with great flair.

Ruby Hansen is a persuasive presence as The Guide, vocalising and physicalizing the role with a confidence that ensures Dan’s quest – to eradicate his cyber-past – is a confronting challenge riddled with jeopardy.

Tony Black’s exacting lighting design and operation accommodates the action and projection so well it’s easy to take it for granted. Philip Jones recreates his sound-design live onstage in ways that ensure the action is truly dynamic.

Director Kerryn Palmer has clearly aligned her cast and creative team to a unified purpose in a very special way. I’m told her assistant director Ryan Knighton has brought a wealth of internet-savviness to the production and, guided by Rickey Dey, is responsible for the stunning fight sequences. The fight-like tango – danced by Michael and Mahalia; guided by Andrew Patterson – is another special moment among the many that grace this must-see production.


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Energetic, crisp and precise

Review by Emma Gatsby 29th May 2015

It appears that the Wellington Comedy Festival is not completely over! Second Afterlife, written by Ralph McCubbin Howell and directed by Kerryn Palmer, has plenty of humour. With an engaging script that any internet savvy audience member will enjoy, cast and crew have worked skilfully together to create this thematically unified production.

Rather like Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, Dan journeys with his ‘Guide’ to revisit his ghosts of profiles past. Encountering his demons with wit rooted in internet fads and topical references, his cyber adventure also features convincing on-stage fight scenes. Hidden in Dan’s dreaming is a teenage love story which adds a likeable sweetness to the multi-layered play. 

Tony Black’s clever lighting and Philip Jones’ sound, operated live onstage (a brilliant directorial choice), combine with the tight young cast’s mature and well-crafted performances to give us an hour of fast paced and sustained action. I whole-heartedly applaud all the actors – Michael Hebenton (Dan), Ruby Hansen (The Guide), Bronwyn Ensor (Bea), Michael Trigg (Simon), Matthew Staijen (Ethan), Mahalia Sinclair-Parker (Sadie) – for their powerful abilities to entertain. 

Energetic, crisp and precisely crafted, Second Afterlife takes us on a sincerely believable journey with Dan and his cyber alter-egos. Teenagers and adults alike will enjoy this show.


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Insight, wit and wisdom plus plenty to ponder

Review by John Smythe 19th Jul 2014

Ralph McCubbin Howell cements his status as one of NZ’s best young playwrights with Second Afterlife and director Kerryn Palmer, her designers and crew, and her exemplary cast of six do him proud.

Dan (Michael Hebenton) has caught the virus we’re all susceptible to: Facebook obsession. He’s lost in cyberspace while his friends are getting on with actual life. It’s a simple, even obvious, premise but this script and production make it sing with insight, wit and wisdom, all strongly anchored in true characterisations that are as strongly purposed as they are rendered. 

It starts at a student flat party – augmented by cast members from the other Y&H plays – which Dan is missing because he’s on (where else?) his laptop. Bea (Bronwyn Ensor), his best friend since forever, would clearly like to socialise with him. Their good mates Simon (Kieren Kleinschmidt) and Ethan (James Russell) can’t even entice him away for a bout of ‘Kung Fu Kitchen’.

Then there’s the fickle yet still-hanging-round-with-the-group Sadie (Mahalia Sinclair-Parker), an intriguingly conceived PC Nazi whose self-serving ways in relationships counterpoint Dan’s insular self-obssession

It’s the morning after the night before, staged with eloquent simplicity, that Dan announces he’s had an epiphany and is going off Facebook. But of course it’s not as easy as it sounds to simply delete his profile. Is Facebook part of his history or is he part of Facebook’s history? No matter how callow, embarrassing or downright wrong his past postings might have been, will – or can – the Internet ever forget?

Dan finds himself in what looks like a computer graveyard except the screens light up with icons of his online history (set & projection design by Anna Robinson, lit by Joanna Dibley). Is his Guide (Ruby Hansen) on his side or out to prove he’s subservient to the Internet, not its master? The howls of the Malwolf – just one of the many sound contributions from live-on-stage Philip Jones – attest to the boundless breadth of the problem.

It’s a classic struggle that references Dante’s Inferno, Homer’s Odyssey, A Christmas Carol and the Wizard of Oz. Epic battles ensue (Allan Henry, Fight Mentor; Andrew Paterson, Tango Mentor) with the afore-mentioned cast playing out the eclectic range of adversaries …

Seamlessly intercut with all that are flashbacks to primary school and high school days, tracing the quintet’s evolving relationships and the inception of Dan’s growing obsession. This in itself denotes masterful dramaturgy, directing, production and execution by a superbly integrated team.

While there are Gen-X in-jokes and internet tropes aplenty, anyone with even a vague understanding of i-space in today’s e-world will get the hang of what’s happening (just as we do with dramatisation of ancient myths and legends).

And how does it resolve? You’ll have to go to find out. Suffice to say the romantics will get their jollies before a more credible reality serves the pragmatists. As with all good plays, when the pleasure of engaging with a splendid production dies down there’s plenty to ponder.

See also reviews for Our Parents’ Children and Uncle Minotaur


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