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Death provokes a wide range of strong emotions; grief, hurt, and anger often follow its wake. But few realize that humor is also a frequent bedfellow. Come to think of it, a lot of the modern rituals, myths, and practices surrounding death are quite hilarious. Reincarnates, seances, psychics, and ghosts run the gamut, making one wonder if the dead really have so little to do in the afterlife that they'd be hanging around us all the time.

Expanded Arts' Falling Awake, a new comedy by award-winning playwright Matthew Davis, uses a fine scalpel to humorously but soulfully probe how people cope with death's mysteries. The romantic comedy gets right in your face with its witty dialogue--and leaves bite marks. Featuring a four-member cast, the show puts the audience right in the midst of the action, which moves frenetically around the modestly sized space.

When the lights go up, we're introduced to the office of the Downtown Village News--"the left of what's left of what's left" --where marketing staff Alisha Shire and Jerremy Hiller struggle to sell ads to erotic body piercing shops to keep the paper afloat. Alisha, an avid reader of psychic self-help books, is constantly stopping Jerremy from leaping out of the window to end his alcohol-deprived existence. Alisha holds a torch for Jerremy, but her desires sadly remain unrequited because Jerremy is gay.

On the other end of the staff spectrum, Downtown Village News writer and heartthrob Dylan Reynolds ponders the mysteries of the great beyond with an urgent passion. Suddenly his old love, Trina Hayes, bursts through the door and back into his life. Dylan mysteriously wants no contact with Trina, but she pushes her way into getting a job at Downtown Village News.

Trina and Alisha's lives are turned upside down when they lose Jerremy and Dylan to death's cold embrace. The two women then begin to form a friendship to help endure the terrible loss. From there, they become unwitting explorers of a hyper caffeinated-like afterlife, seeking for ways to reunite and reconcile with their recently departed loved ones.

When, everywhere they go, the two encounter people from all walks of life who bear an uncanny resemblance to Dylan and Jerremy, the results are hilarious! The comedy that ensues is both touching and frantic, inducing chills and thrills as the women consult a bizarre gallery of mystics and blues divas about their visions and encounters.

In its conclusion, Falling Awake lightly inspires a hopeful vision of living life after death, and cautions the audience to never forget the memory of a dead loved one--for then they will have died twice.


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