‘The Double’ is a new tension packed, cyber-Gothic play from the pen of Clare Testoni. Clare who is a writer, puppeteer, and actor, is also the proud recipient of a Best Production Award at the Blue Room. She has recently further honed her writing skills with the Black Swan Emerging Writers’ group.
This highly unusual tale is being presented by The Blue Room Theatre as part of their 2019 Development Season, in conjunction with the all-female Bow & Dagger team – who last year, boldly brought you ‘Medusa’. This exciting
This fast-paced, 75-minute Faustian play of things to come, can be seen in the Blue Room Theatre, 53 James Street, Northbridge nightly at 7.00 pm until 11th May.
The scene: a room in the Gemble Building, which is owned by Australia’s largest advertising, promotions and private TV and games company.
The set: The room is pure white and of clinical appearance. The walls, floor, ceiling and even the furniture are dazzling white. A floor to ceiling window had clouds drifting past. There is a bench seat and a pine coffee table. A large cross of masking tape is on the floor.
In the wings are two small theatrical dressing room makeup areas with fitted video cameras, and a row of a dozen blouses and shirts.
Young attractive Victoria (Phoebe Sullivan) has been selected as one of their finalists by Gemble. They are looking for a girl with a good figure and clear voice to be used in the final stages of programming their lifelike robot woman, ‘Vici’. The money offered to Victoria is incredible, but being an out of work actor, she does not question why the amount is so large.
A phone rings, it is one of the programmers (Michelle Aitken) welcoming Victoria to the experiment and then running her through a few voice and movement routines. Victoria’s mother (Amanda Watson) rings to see how the interview went. Victoria is asked if she wants to take the call, and on agreeing the wall becomes her i-phone screen and the room her earpiece.
It appears that Vici seems to know a lot about Victoria’s private life – and that is only the beginning of Victoria’s problems.
Director and writer Clare Testoni has excelled herself. We have come to expect something a little different from Clare, but this superbly structured and presented ‘warning of the future’ is special. Not only is her storyline unique, but her dialogue is natural and gripping.
Clare has gathered three well known and talented Blue Room faces, Phoebe, Michelle and Amanda all of whom have proved themselves in many genres. The disturbing thing is, what seems to be a simple story gradually turns into a nightmare for Victoria.
All the actors play several parts, but no two ever actually appear in ‘the room’ together. Victoria speaks over the phone to those controlling her, along with her friends and relations. The i-phone screen shows the person on the other end of the line as they are talking and on several occasions – even though I have known the actors for years – I had to look to the ‘wings’ area to see who was actually speaking, as the videos did not look like anyone that I knew; this was because Creative Producer, Natalie Di Risio and Director Clare had developed a computer program that instantly morphed the faces slightly, added an unshaven look to one man, changed the eye colours, added wrinkles and when required, even made the female actors look quite masculine.
Most of this amazing technical work was done by Clare herself, not over weeks on a multi-million-dollar video suite, but instantly on a home computer. Technical genius. At one stage in the play, a roller blind covered the high-rise building window and robot Vici appeared with an actor’s talking head accurately superimposed. The time spent creating these effects must have been exhausting for the actors and technicians. The numerous and complex computer mixes were operated by Rachael Woodward.
Sound Designer, Joe Lui produced a multifaceted blend of sound effects and music, which combined with Lighting Designer Rhiannon Petersen’s mood lighting was wonderful.
Publicist, Scott McArdle hinted at how the script covered morality, vanity and subsequent social dilemmas but the depth portrayed was unexpectedly chilling.
This cutting-edge production had the audience applauding long after the cast had exited the stage. What a fantastic start to the 2019 Blue Room season. Fabulous. The tickets are selling very well, so get in quickly.