‘So You Think You’re Charlie Smith’ reviewed by Gordon the Optom

by April 12, 2017

‘So You Think You’re Charlie Smith’ is a black pseudo-documentary. It was written by local playwrights, Jackson Used and Ben Thomas, and mentored by much admired Finn O’Branagáin, who has had a couple of major shows at the Blue Room.

This 75-minute, adult show, by Sandpaperplane Productions, can be seen in the main theatre in the Blue Room Theatre complex, 53 James Street in Northbridge, each evening at 7.00 pm (including Sundays) until Saturday 29th April.

With reality TV shows like ‘My Kitchen Rules’ and ‘Married at First Sight’, the producers are often looking for the dirt, the grubbier the better. If there isn’t any, then it must be created.

 

The set is simple. A black shiny floor, a large projection screen is hung high on the rear wall and at the side of the stage is a small set for TV interviews.

Rhiannon Petersen’s lighting design had a great deal of thought put into it. When coupled with the sound design by Robert Woods, the mood was most powerful. Woods made good use of a subtle, low-frequency rumbling noise as the tension crept up. Robert Woods was also responsible for the superb AV presentation, a most complex, and professional piece of filming and editing. Some of the photographic images were by Jamie Breen. The show was stage managed by Georgia Smith.

     After having signed a most demanding contract, three contestants find themselves selected for a TV series, ‘The Platform’. The three have been selected for being extremely self-assured, to the point of their being classed as exceptionally arrogant and egotistical.

     The trendy programme’s presenter (James McMillan) is supercilious, ingratiating, and obnoxious. When coupled with the show’s producer (Megan Hollier), the bitch from Hell, who simply revels in the contestants’ degradation and suffering – anything to ensure good ratings.

     When Gwyn (Hollie Hines), Joe (Ben Thomas) and (Phoebe Sullivan) are faced with a physical challenge, the friendships fall apart.

     Who will become the supreme winner?

This beautifully written and constructed play makes one wonder just how true to life the TV shows are, and how much is creative editing. How well are the contestants respected by the producers? Director, Jackson Used had dramaturg help from Finn O’Branagáin, and directing mentoring from Will O’Mahony, they have given us an original tale of power versus the average person in the street.

The play moves at a cracking pace, and the actors all gave good solid performances.

A mental challenge for the characters, and the audience, as loyalties swing.

A clever, quality piece of theatre to start off The Blue Room’s new season.