AU ABROAD

Theatre Review: Between Solar Systems - Blue Room Theatre, Perth (Performances through to 26th September)

Between Solar Systems is the latest work from emerging Perth theatre group Second Chance Theatre. Written and directed by Scott McArdle the play centres on the actions of Vincent, the sole survivor of Earth’s cataclysmic sea level rise, or is he? I’m going to try and get through this review without giving away too many spoilers; but there’s no guarantees so read ahead at your peril.

Between Solar Systems is an entertaining and wholly ambitious affair; you need look no further than the sumptuous set design and visual effects to see the level of ambition and drive that McArdle and his team have. That ambition comes across in the writing too, there is a lot going on! – multiple potential back stories, clever little references nestled in the background and an interesting twist at the play’s climax.

For the most part McArdle has a great handle on the story despite it’s complexity; it moves along nicely, it never really drags or falters – but there were just a few elements that were a little lost on me, namely ‘the woman’, who’s character I’m still not sure was real or not. I did, however, really enjoy McArdle’s nods to other science fiction; with it’s subtle homages to the Terminator franchise and others; the play even had it’s own Planet of the Apes moment (spoilers!).

I enjoyed Nick Maclaine’s performance as Vincent; which for me managed to find the right balance between the cold almost emotionlessness you would expect from someone raised by a virtual intelligence; but also a sense of warmth and humour – there was still a playfulness and childishness to his character that was entertaining to watch.

Though for me Jo Morris stole the show and she wasn’t even on stage. I mean who doesn’t love a wisecracking incredibly sarcastic virtual intelligence - Siri on overdrive. Yes there was warmth and humanity about Vi, but for me Morris so successfully captured, and shifted with ease into, Vi’s dark streak; the coldness and emotional detachment. That programmed need to follow pre set directives without any real consideration for Vincent’s feelings. You need look no further than Vi’s reaction to Vincent’s death at the end of the play to see this coldness at play.

On the whole I really enjoyed Between Solar Systems; it was entertaining and it was funny, and whilst I felt like there was maybe a bit too much going on story wise, I was hugely impressed by the attention to detail by the creative team; from just little background details that you might easily miss, to Vi’s visuals and the set design; which was perhaps the most creative and best use of the Blue Room space I’ve seen yet.

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Between Solar Systems is performing at the Blue Room Theatre, Perth until September 26th. For more information and ticketing visit: http://blueroom.org.au/events/between-solar-systems/

The Reviewer attended the Opening Night performance on 10th September.