Dante or Die
USER NOT FOUND asks the question – “would you delete your online legacy at the moment of your death?”
The newly designed Prelude restaurant at the Norwich Theatre Royal was the setting for ‘Dante or Die’, a thought provoking piece of theatre. A set of headphones, a phone and a table of strangers – there was a nervous hum as no-one really knew quite what to expect.
The phone lit up, signalling that it was time to don the headphones and enter into one man’s agonising journey as he is given the legal responsibility to either keep or delete his ex-partner’s online history.
The lead actor and co-director Terry O’Donovan was hidden among us and as he stood to talk and began to move around the tables, we were instantly transported to a café where this story began. On our provided phones a stream of sympathetic texts appeared rudely announcing the unexpected death of his ex-boyfriend Luka. Boom!
Terry’s narration runs alongside a mix of audible and visual prompts – music playlists, background noises, dreams, texts, emails and of course Social Media entries. A private view into Terry and Luka’s personal relationship and break-up that reveals how different actual and Social Media reality can be.
For anyone who’s lost someone close, there are moments that resonate deeply; For instance that initial feeling of shock and of not being able to remember what someone looks like as your world turns into one big blur, or the need to focus on something tangible and how Social Media can become that link and mechanism to keeping them alive.
Based on a Guardian article, the play questions the role that Social Media plays with grief. Does it help ease the loss or can it in fact cause more pain as you unveil a world you didn’t know about or perhaps were not a part of?
There was comedy, performance dance and even a little bit of surrealism in a drunken dream of Norah Jones in the form of Sheryl Crow and a snail with superimposed lips profoundly stating “death is a story told by the living.”
I remember re-reading texts and listening to messages from my Dad after he passed, until an unfortunate incident on a lake. The phone was dead for ever and yes I was devastated, but after a while I realised that it was probably for the best. There are so many physical places that become owned by people whom we have lost – is it necessary to revisit a virtual world too?
To delete or not to delete – that is the question? Would I even burden someone with that decision? Is this something we now need to factor into our final wishes?
I won’t spoil the ending but if you have a chance to see this I’d highly recommend it. Sadly it was one night only at the Norfolk & Norwich Festival but more tour dates can be found here.