Tag Archives: Geoff Hense

Kill Climate Deniers
★★★★

Pleasance Theatre

Kill Climate Deniers

Kill Climate Deniers

Pleasance Theatre

Reviewed – 7th June 2019

★★★★

 

“by thirty minutes in the audience mood has swelled into bonhomie”

 

‘You want to call your play something fun, something playful, something catchy’. So opens this exploration of the overlapping worlds of climate science, denial and activism. The questionable ‘fun’ of the title sums up the tensions that David Finnigan’s writing and Nic Connaughton’s direction unpack; tensions between laugh-out-loud comedy and the very real tragedy of our warming planet.

The ninety minute production in the downstairs Pleasance Space starts a little slowly, understandably. Some narrative explication is needed; this play is meta to the max, and even more so on press night when playwright David Finnigan was both represented on stage, by Nathan Coenen, and sitting within the audience. Coenen, as ‘Finig’, addresses us throughout the play, inserting wry asides and giving context to the ideas that led to his writing a play with quite such an inflammatory title (of which more later).

The otherwise all-female cast is uniformly strong, variously turning their hands to physicality, comedy and pathos, but it’s no surprise that the star of the show is highly-regarded comedian Felicity Ward as earnest but chaotic Environment Minister Gwen Malkin. We watch as Finig’s flippant (or was it?) play title starts to convert into a call to action, and the second phase of the play sees a switch into action with Malkin eventually taking down climate terrorists to an absolutely banging soundtrack of nineties dance classics.

The choreography, by movement director Rubyyy Jones, is exceptional; they deserve note for further enhancing and celebrating the energy of this litany of amazing tracks. Jones’ work and great lighting design from Geoff Hense help the play into gear and by thirty minutes in the audience mood has swelled into bonhomie – aided in no small part by a lively shared rendition of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘You Can Go Your Own Way’. On that note, fans of The Mac be warned; there is plenty of fun gently poked at the rockers, who play an unexpectedly central role. It’s not personal, though; few institutions go un-poked, and there are some especially ripe representations of Australian right-wing commentators and their slippery uses of language.

Uses and abuses of language are a recurring theme. Finig questions whether it was right to use the menacing imperative of the title and opens the night by repeating, mantra-like, ‘sometimes you get it wrong, you get it wrong, you get it wrong…’. By the close of the play, the audience are similarly turned around. Is it right or helpful to remain in ardent opposition to people with whom we may, in fact, have more in common than we realise? And can we ever effect change that will halt our not-so-slow march towards extinction, or would the change itself be harder than we can bear? Sometimes we do all, indeed, get it wrong, and we all are where climate change is concerned. But Finnigan certainly got this one right.

 

Reviewed by Abi Davies

Photography by Ali Wright

 


Kill Climate Deniers

Pleasance Theatre until 28th June

 

Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Bingo | ★★★ | June 2018
Aid Memoir | ★★★ | October 2018
One Duck Down | ★★★★★ | October 2018
The Archive of Educated Hearts | ★★★★ | October 2018
Call Me Vicky | ★★★ | February 2019
Neck Or Nothing | ★★★★ | April 2019
Night Of The Living Dead Live | ★★★ | April 2019
Don’t Look Away | ★★★½ | May 2019
Regen | ★★★ | May 2019
The Millennials | ★★½ | May 2019

 

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The Daughter-in-Law

The Daughter-in-Law
★★★★★

Arcola Theatre

The Daughter-in-Law

The Daughter-in-Law

Arcola Theatre

Reviewed – 15th January 2019

★★★★★

 

“Matthew Biddulph as Joe Gascoyne gave the most natural performance and almost always felt like he could have ended each sentence with a cheeky wink”

 

The Daughter-in-Law is back at the Arcola now occupying Studio 1, after a month in the smaller Studio 2 during the summer of 2018. It is one of D H Lawrence’s eight plays completed during his lifetime, although he’s more famously known for his poetry and novels. Jack Gamble’s revival some fifty-odd years since its first staging at The Royal Court in 1967 proves the central themes of marriage and family, set amongst Nottinghamshire’s mining community, are still relatable today.

Lawrence introduces us to the Gascoyne family. We have the matriarch and her two youngest sons, Luther and Joe, Luther’s wife of six weeks, the eponymous Daughter-in-Law, Minnie, and neighbour Mrs Purdy. These are the types of people Lawrence would have known well, having grown up in the mining community of Easton himself in the late 1800s. A thick Derbyshire accent (dialect coach Penny Dyer) is in full use throughout the play, which does take some getting used to, especially for southern London types. However, it does also make for great comedic moments, particularly Mrs Gascoyne’s use of colloquialisms to the young women in her sons’ lives.

Although complications to Luther and Minnie’s marriage are revealed very early on, it’s actually the relationship between the mother and her family members which draws the most scrutiny at the climax of the play with Minnie asking “how is a woman to have a husband if all the men belong to their mothers?” It’s an insightful statement delivered to sympathetic laughter, but at least one of the conclusions Minnie draws from this, that she would rather have a husband who knocks her about than one who can’t really love her, I cringed to hear.

Ellie Nunn and Matthew Barker as Minnie and Luther each show their force in the relationship in contrasting ways, Nunn verbally but Barker physically. Matthew Biddulph as Joe Gascoyne gave the most natural performance and almost always felt like he could have ended each sentence with a cheeky wink.

Each of the four acts are set in the dining room of either Mrs or Minnie Gascoyne’s homes. Louie Whitemore’s set is therefore unflashy but authentic viewed in the round. The lighting and sound also subtly, but cleverly work with the set to situate the play in both time and location. Geoff Hense complements lit candles on stage with warm orange glows. Dinah Mullen’s sound is most notable when recreating the sounds of the mine shafts in one tense moment.

This production at Arcola Theatre offers another chance to see this worthy revival, a gentle reminder that the plight of the miners did not start or end with Margaret Thatcher, and an honest acknowledgement that marriage is rarely a simple fairy tale.

 

Reviewed by Amber Woodward

Photography by Idil Sukan

 


The Daughter-in-Law

Arcola Theatre until 2nd February

 

Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Fine & Dandy | ★★★★★ | February 2018
The Daughter-in-Law | ★★★★ | May 2018
The Parade | ★★★ | May 2018
The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives | ★★★★★ | June 2018
The Rape of Lucretia | ★★★★ | July 2018
Elephant Steps | ★★★★ | August 2018
Greek | ★★★★ | August 2018
Forgotten | ★★★ | October 2018
Mrs Dalloway | ★★★★ | October 2018
A Hero of our Time | ★★★★★ | November 2018

 

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