Kill Climate Deniers
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: