Kill Climate Deniers
at Pleasance Theatre, London
“I feel that I am not Australian enough to understand some of this”
Australian Environment Minister Gwen Malkin’s plan to stop climate change is rudely interrupted when a group of eco-terrorists storm Parliament House - two sides of the political spectrum perhaps, but, in the end, both want the same thing. Can they work something out? Can they have a rational conversation? Or will there be a bloodbath?
Kill Climate Deniers is actually like the above plot - two different plays sharing the same aim, but both unfortunately clash in an unnatural and forced setting. On the one hand there is the story itself, with a cast of five women playing a collection of bizarre characters. On the other, there is the writer, David Finnigan, introducing the piece and popping up throughout - at first wrestling with the name of the play and the legal journey he has been on and explaining that the title is not an instruction, but admittedly acknowledging that, because of it and the content of the play, he has made the project newsworthy.
[Bec Hill as Catch, David Finnigan as himself and Kelly Paterniti as Bekken]
The play began life in Australia way back in 2013 and has been performed out there, with public funding - a contentious issue in itself. Now it is in the UK and has also received Arts Council funding. And it has not escaped my attention that the piece has six Australian performers informing us about the likely consequences of climate change, even though their own carbon footprint in getting here can’t be helping!
That is unfair, I know. The cast are a strong collection of Aussie comedians and actresses who have been touring the UK for years, ie. not here just for this production. Felicity Ward plays Gwen Malkin with tongue firmly in cheek and portrays a Parliamentary Minister we would expect to see - one that can switch on the confidence and smiles for the camera, but is actually a bag of nerves and doubt. She is assisted by her Press Officer Georgina Bekken, played with relish by Kelly Paterniti. Bec Hill plays the eco-terrorist Catch, the rebel with a cause to die for.
[Felicity Ward as Gwen Malkin]
In the end, the whole cast work hard with scant material. Director Nic Connaughton has achieved wonders with a script containing little depth, more a ragtag of sketches and jokes that plod the story along, limping to the inevitable endings: one play ends like a Rambo-esque massacre, the other with Finnigan’s own monologue about the state of Australian politics and what is at stake if meaningful and responsible conversations about climate change are not had.
[Bec Hill as Catch]
Sadly, I feel that I am not Australian enough to understand some of this: the jokes or references. The play also relies heavily on pop music - the soundtrack, although foot-tapping good… Has no one ever really asked if it needs to be there? Like Australia in Eurovision: what is going on?!? And, regarding the essence of the play, a certain Sir David Attenborough has already got this nation talking and thinking. Politicians, by their very nature, are reactive - seldom proactive. Thanks to Blue Planet II, they are beginning to act because of the public’s outcry - so Kill Climate Deniers has perhaps arrived here a little too late.
Photographer Ali Wright
Playwright David Finnigan
Director Nic Connaughton
Producers Maya Ellis and Jonny Patton
Designer Prinx Lydia
Performances Until 28th June - Tuesday to Saturday at 8pm, Sunday 6pm
Saturday Matinee 3.30pm
Venue Pleasance Theatre, Carpenters Mews, North Road, London
Nearest Tube Caledonian Road (Piccadilly Line)
Tickets Box Office 020 7609 1800 or online at www.pleasance.co.uk
Price From £12
Running Time 90 minutes (no interval)
Twitter @KCDplay, @thepleasance, #KillClimateDeniersPlay