Monday, 2 September 2013

SECRET LIVES: Stylish and fast-paced, Internet Affair puts a modern-day spin on relationship dynamics

TAKING A STAND: Little and Moore share stage time in this scene.

Internet Affair (ACT Productions) 
Director: Rayon McLean 
Cast: Brian-Ray Moore, Pepita Little, Marsha-Ann Campbell, Petrina Williams and Akeem Mignott
Venue: Pantry Playhouse, New Kingston 

If any realm is famous for its mind-boggling extremes it's most certainly the World Wide Web, which has given us the catfish phenomenon and cyber hookups. You get a bit of both in Internet Affair, Aston Cooke's fast-paced and superfunny new romantic comedy that puts a fresh, modern spin on relationship dynamics in the era of Facebook and WhatsApp. 

The deep-thinking young director Rayon McLean stylishly brings Cooke's vision to the Pantry Playhouse stage, fashioning the production as a virtual realm, in which the simple click of a mouse can set things in motion, often with damning consequences. 
Newcomer Brian-Ray Moore brings charm and some measure of conviction to the male lead of Philip Robinson, a bank loans officer recently wed to posh event planner Donna (Marsha-Ann Campbell). They're playing house in the well-to-do Orange Manor. Thanks to his online dalliances, particularly on Facebook, Philip strikes up an affair with the curiously named Candy Delicious (Pepita Little, superb as she channels her inner wild child). Rowdy and faintly sociopathic, she quickly makes Philip the object of her infatuation. 

It isn't long before Donna gets wind of their fling, and along with her sassy ride-or-die best friend Monique (Petrina Williams), sets out to put a stop to it. Delighting in the whole sordid charade is Philip's hyperactive and single bredrin Gregory, played with wide-eyed enthusiasm by Akeem Mignott. 

With its bright young cast, cyber mania and casual amorality, Internet Affair has the makings of a serious exploration of the highs and heartbreaks of online affairs. But, as ever, Cooke is intent on going his own way. At its best, the show has the stylized flair of an art-house short film tackling themes of infidelity, betrayal, commitment, trust and guilt. 
In large part, Internet Affair rings authentic in terms of what we all know about the inner workings of relationships -- and striving to make them work in the face of myriad challenges. A few things don't click though: the chic set design yields a one-dimensional atmosphere and the ending needs a bit more work. 

Still, as a whole, the show is a commendably acted and revelatory glimpse at the complications and fantasies of secret lives and young relationships in our increasingly digital age. Tyrone's Verdict: B

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