Photo – Kieran Peek Photography
A single man is alone on a ship traveling through space. It’s slowly losing power, and he has to maintain it just long enough to get to the next planet which is five years away. Earth is a distant memory, and his only companion is the ship’s computer. And so begins the sci-fi drama, Between Solar Systems, written and directed by Scott McArdle.
We don’t often see sci-fi on stage, unless it’s the occasional Red Dwarf or Doctor Who tribute show. We do see plenty of dystopian near-futures, or unsettling parallel worlds, but these rarely emphasize technology, artificial intelligence, space travel and so on. However, Scott McArdle and his trusty crew of authentically intelligent theatre-makers are here to do just that.
Between Solar Systems features Nick Maclaine as our main man in space, Vincent. Vincent is mentally sharp, physically fit and suddenly experiencing strange visions that spark his curiosity. He is determined to find out a deeply hidden truth about his own existence, the Earth he left behind, and his journey to a new life.
The ship’s computer system is known as V, played by the disembodied voice of Jo Morris, and her very human qualities have been real enough to sustain Vincent through the years. However, when Vincent begins to sense something isn’t quite right on board, their “relationship” starts to break down.
There is a third, well, entity on board the ship, played by Emily David who we meet as a character in the simulation room. She’s Vincent’s scene partner in the scenarios that he plays through to try and discover why the ship is breaking down. But that’s not the only place Vincent finds her.
Let’s leave the synopsis there, as to describe it in further detail would be to give away far too many spoilers. McArdle has written a fine script, with smart dialogue, excellent pace, and though there might be a few familiar tropes to those who love their sci-fi, he does enough to make these unique because of their stage setting. He’s had some mentoring on the script by Finegan Kruckemeyer, who has clearly been an excellent guide and sounding board for the young writer.
McArdle’s language is clean and direct when it needs to move the plot forward, but he also takes the liberty of using a more lyrical tone through some of the more dream-like sequences. The two work well together with his taut direction and sleek tech elements. Maclaine also does fine work, again proving himself to be a versatile mainstay in the theatre world, and he and his heard-but-not-seen traveling companion, Jo Morris do an excellent job working off each other, even though they’re never face-to-face. Emily David is fresh and versatile as well, and keels Maclaine on his toes, both in character and as a scene partner.
This is probably one of the more technically difficult shows I’ve seen at The Blue Room, and due credit should be given to all the creatives whose fine work comes together to create this slick package: designer Sara Chirichilli, composer Drew Krapljanov, sound designer Tim Brain and AV designer Warwick Doddrell. And of course, there’s the man behind the board, stage manager Daley King, making sure all of it goes off without a hitch.
Fans of sci-fi genre will probably be very pleased with this live experience, and avid theatre-goers will be treated to something refreshing and clever.
Second Chance Theatre
Between Solar Systems
by Scott McArdle
Director Scott McArdle
Venue: The Blue Room Theatre | 3 James Street, Northbridge WA
Dates: 8 – 26 September 2015
Tickets: $15 – $25