Pleasance Theatre, London – until 28 June 2019
The European premiere of David Finnigan’s controversially-titled satire successfully combines a deeply serious message with some some serious on-stage silliness, set to a spectacular soundtrack of early 90s house and techno.
In her acting debut, Australian comedian Felicity Ward plays Environment Minister Gwen Malkin, whose plan to stop climate change is rudely interrupted when a group of eco-terrorists storm Australia’s Parliament House during a Fleetwood Mac concert. Blending fact and fiction, the action is interrupted by comments from “Finig” (played by Nathan Coenen), who largely fills the audience in on reactions to the piece from the right-wing media since its conception in 2014.
The small cast brims with comic talent, not only in Ward and the critically-acclaimed comic Bec Hill (playing Catch, leader of the climate extremists), but also Kelly Paterniti and Hannah Ellis Ryan, whose comic delivery, timing and riffing with the audience keep this challenging show this side of enjoyable.
While in its promotion and associated events the show makes absolutely clear its political allegiances, each character has their own viewpoint – none of them are presented as correct and none invalid. Note, for example, the Ellis Ryan’s monologue on behalf of the media, deeply angry at the scientific community for failing to communicate their findings. Appalling and difficult to hear, it demonstrates the problems of presenting data and proof to a society more swayed by message and how a message is conveyed. For prompt action in a climate emergency, it definitely is faster and more effective to use the means that work, rather than means that might be considered “correct”.
Do go and see the show, but before you do, some quick advice about the venue: The “Downstairs” space at the Pleasance is a bizarre temporary structure venue that resides in London 10 months a year, and moves to Edinburgh in August. At 5’6″ I am not the leggiest of reviewers, but even I was struggling for the relatively short duration (85 mins, no interval). Get there early, be prepared for All The Stairs Both Up And Down, and grab a front row seat. With a capacity of 75, and set-up essentially in the round, there’s no hiding from interaction with the cast, so go for the front row and save yourselves the agony.
This show can never live up to expectations set by its bold title, even though it has clearly evolved to tackle that challenge since it was first pitched in 2014. That said, the enduring currency of its message (echoes of Greta Thunberg/Extinction Rebellion throughout) is astounding, almost terrifying. With five stellar acting performances and some epic dancing, it also makes for good and enjoyable. But what does my opinion matter? This is a blog and, as Bekken made abundantly clear from the outset of the show, “bloggers don’t count”.
Kill Climate Deniers continues at the Pleasance Theatre (downstairs) until Friday 28th June 2019. More info & tickets.