It's like Agatha Christie in Cyber Land!

By: May. 13, 2023
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Laila Lee prepares us right away. Her new one woman show at the Tampa Fringe, LIGHT BRINGER 2: THE CHASE, contains much graphic language, violent images and racism. I'm glad she warned us because with a title like LIGHT BRINGER it could be something as lightweight as Song of Norway. This is obviously is not so innocent. What follows in this sequel is a stairway to hell, a personal apocalypse of Ms. Lee's where family infighting and past horrors merge with online stalking and her upcoming nuptials. And the show, and her gutsy performance, keeps us on the edge of our seats.

LIGHT BRINGER 2: THE CHASE is a mystery of sorts, Agatha Christie in Cyber Land. It's September of 2014, and while Laila is preparing for her wedding to the man of her dreams, a black man named "Beau," she gets a Facebook friend request...from herself. She soon realizes that she has been hacked by someone creating a fake account of her. The posts get more and more graphic and horrific. And Laila demands to know: Who is trolling her?

She goes through the chief suspects one at a time, including sisters, a brother, even her estranged mother and father. Her mother tells others that she want to dance and spit on [Laila's] grave (but while recalling this, Laila cries at a hauntingly sad thought: It was her mother who taught her how to sew).

Her one sister, Sundy, seems a likely suspect from the start but then a call in to Bubba the Love Sponge for Pearl Jam tickets solidifies her as Suspect #1. But then there's the "big ass Cadillac" that keeps following her. And a family that obviously is having a hard time with Laila's turning away from them and from her impending marrying to a black man. One relative even goes as far as to say that marrying a black man is akin to a zebra copulating with a giraffe (but in far more graphic terms).

Laila tries contacting Facebook to stop the harassment but no avail. (Great tech work here with the robotic sound of the Facebook response; the computer voice sounds like a female Hal-9000.) But once the hacker posts a death threat, we know we are on the road to the revelation in this intriguing "Whodunnit?"

LIGHT BRINGER 2: THE CHASE is an edge-of-your-seat thriller. And Laila Lee is in top form, slowly building the panic to feverish heights. She "goes there" emotionally, and we are with her for the entire ride. It's gutsy, intense, appropriately paranoid. Projections add to her words, as do the musical selections, but it's Ms. Lee's performance that I recall most. It's a harrowing journey, from the start to near the end when Ms. Lee becomes a super-sleuth of sorts and defiantly downs a Twix bar. The mystery may be solved, but what are the ramifications?

I got to experience LIFE BRINGER 2 in the new Fringe Theatre space on 7th Avenue in Ybor, which works quite well with a piece like this. (Adding to the chill of Ms. Lee's words was the chill from an air conditioner that was working overtime.) Ms. Lee has created a work that is quite riveting. It would also make a great movie.

Although I saw the final performance of LIFE BRINGER 2: THE CHASE, she's taking the original installment, THE LIFE BRINGER, to Fringe Fort Myers on June 1, 3 & 4.