>>> Fringe Review: Life After

LIFE AFTER by Britta Johnson. Theatre Passe Muraille.

LIFE AFTER by Britta Johnson. Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace. July 4 at 8:45 pm, July 6 at 11 pm, July 7 at 3:30 pm, July 9 at 8:45 pm, July 10 at 2:45 pm. Buy tickets. Rating: NNNNN

After 16-year-old Alice’s (Anika Johnson) father (Tim Funnell), a motivational speaker and author, dies in a car accident, she’s wracked with guilt and, as the funeral comes and goes, replays events and digs into family secrets to find some closure.

Britta Johnson’s extraordinary musical is hugely ambitious, interweaving past and present in looking at various characters’ attempts to find happiness. Director Robert McQueen’s staging brings out the work’s many moods and colours, from the polite and awkward funeral reception to the rah-rah atmosphere of the dad’s seminars and the quirky utterances of Alice’s BFF Hannah (Kate Blackburn, adding lots of comic relief).

The composer’s lyrics are clever but not showy, her music complex and suggestive. The cast, headed by Anika Johnson – a lightning rod of emotion – is superb. Just try not to cry in the last 10 minutes.

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