Like an episode of Black Mirror, Septem examines the dark side of our obsession with entertainment. The setting is a reality TV show with high stakes. Seven people gather in a sumptuous dining room, with a set of instructions and no escape. "In front of you is a pill. Within the next thirty minutes one of you must take the pill. If after thirty minutes nobody has taken it, you will all die. Survivors will win their share of fifty million dollars."
The set-up is simple enough. The contestants must now decide how to face their terrible decision. Round-the-table introductions allow us to get to know the characters, to a degree, while a timer ticks down the passing seconds on the wall above their heads. A series of votes swing the decision from one possible victim to the next, before the final double-twist.
Eclipse Productions is a local amateur theatre company, and with Septem they've taken the screen-to-stage route, reproducing a short film written by Hazel Hayes and Sammy Paul. Running at just over half an hour, the pace ticks along nicely. The premise is interesting, and the script has its moments but is largely unremarkable. The amateur cast put up a pretty good show.
While it does seem a tad redundant to recreate on stage a short film you can watch on YouTube, it is nonetheless an intriguing thought experiment. With MAFS updates reported daily by The Advertiser, and Goggle Box taking things to a whole new meta level, it's clear that reality TV is becoming ever more ingrained in our society. It's worth exploring the dark paths that could lead us down. It's good to see a small local company taking on recent works that address contemporary themes.