Dissecting reality

ART emulates art, playing at real life, in So You Think You’re Charlie Smith.

The play examines the specious nature of reality television, and is very topical given the recent media frenzy over claims of fakery in the Channel Nine show Married At First Sight.

One character says the show is a set up and she was spoon-fed lines that portrayed her as the villain; another is adamant it was all red roses on set and love blossomed.

She and her TV husband plan to move in together after the show has finished, and there’s talk of kids in the future.

• Peter Townsend in So You Think You’re Charlie Smith. Photo by Jamie Breen

The blurring of the real and the constructed is at the heart of So You Think You’re Charlie Smith: a disturbing look into the murkiness and manipulation of reality television.

UWA drama society buddies Jackson Used and Ben Thomas co-wrote the play, and it was also directed by Used and produced by Thomas.

Keen to explore the themes of isolation and identity in the 21st century, the pair eventually decided on reality television as a vehicle.

“[We] decided that would be an interesting way to look at this stuff,” Used says.

Manipulated

From competitive cooking shows to finding a wife, reality shows are a huge phenomenon and big business.

But with directors, producers and a film crew in tow they can never be anything but a manufactured reality, insists Used.

He says characters are manipulated and their screen time edited to draw out particular traits, “to make someone more of a villain.”

Once labelled the bad guy, or girl, on national television, it’s hard to go back to real life.

“That is how people know them,” Used says.

“It’s so worrying, particularly with social media and how we present ourselves through images.”

So You Think You’re Charlie Smith is on April 11–29, at the Blue Room Theatre, Northbridge.

by JENNY D’ANGER

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