It’s your classic girl-meets-avatar, girl-loses-avatar, girl-narrowly-escapes-a-digital-apocalypse kind of story.
In Australian playwright Lally Katz’s eerie Goodbye New York, Goodbye Heart—now playing at Here, artfully directed by Oliver Butler—Caroline (Nicolle Bradford), an Aussie with wanderlust, attends a friend’s wedding. The catch: The nuptials transpire in Myspace New York, a nostalgic digital simulacrum of the city, that, in a dystopian near-future, has replaced the vanished original. Suicides (like Caroline’s betrothed pal) are the aristocrats in this alternate metropolis—although dead in analog reality, their effigies linger in cyberspace. They’re cared for by “avalanche dwellers”: still-living people who somehow, mysteriously, inhabit MSNYC, despite the omnipresent danger of a world-ending systems crash. At the ceremony, Caroline meets cute with a local suicide-about-town, and contemplates adopting avalancher status—but love can’t bloom. He’s dead pixels, and she’s solid flesh.
The Internet haunts the tissue of Katz’s play: She infuses her dialogue with virtual socializing’s weird protocols. Characters chirp surface-level banalities or abruptly overshare, spilling their guts about childhood traumas. Acting with a chipper but deadpan style, the excellent ensemble accomplishes the creepy trick of embodying second life’s secondhand emotions.
It’s pretty scary to think about your Facebook profile outliving your body. As Goodbye New York illustrates, we’re busily creating our own ghosts.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 8, 2010