EARTHQUAKES IN LONDON
by Mike Bartlett.
Cottesloe Theatre Upper Ground South Bank SE1 9PX In rep to 22 September 2010.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mats 14, 18, 21, 22 Sept 2.30pm.
Runs: 3 hrs with interval.
TICKETS 020 7452 3000.
Review: Carole Woddis 6 Sept.
Whizz-bang promenade production with some locations more focused than others.
Less a rave about impending environmental disaster – and the pros and cons of Heathrow’s third runway – Mike Bartlett’s ambitious, hedonistic and mystical take on climate change feels more like a rave. Backed by Rupert Goold’s ebuliient, magnificently acted video and rock ‘n roll packed production, Bartlett takes us into some extreme contemporary states of being.
Set on Miriam Buether’s curved catwalk, this is a promenade production like you’ve never seen it – loud, brash, shocking even in its depiction of the violence we humans do to each other, never mind the planet. At times outrageously uninhibited, it is not afraid to touch the heartstrings, particularly when it comes to the unborn.
The story of three sisters and a father, lovelessness and a sense of apocalyptic doom so overpowering that the idea of bringing a child into the world is enough to send one sister, Freya, into an attempted suicide on Waterloo Bridge, it’s a flawed state-of-the-nation play that breaks uncomfortably into two halves.
In the lengthy first half, we are introduced, in a series of rattlingly short scenes to Sarah, Lia Williams’ smart suited Coalition-government minister, Anna Madeley’s pregnant Freya and the youngest, self-destructing Jasmine (another sensationally extrovert performance from Jessica Raine), a pill-popping `burlesque’ dancer.
Alongside them are various husbands, boy friends and possible business partners in a narrative exploring power, public and personal, and somewhat peripherally the west’s impact, in its lifestyle, on parts of the planet already experiencing climatic disasters.
Bartlett’s writing and Goold’s co–National Theatre/Headlong production are always watchable, if at times provoking. Bartlett, who wrote one of the best plays of last year in Cock at the Royal Court Upstairs is expert at showing the toxicity of modern day marriage and male-female relations. When it comes to the environment, however, despite the inclusion of a climate science maverick, Robert (seen initially as young, idealistic, gradually seduced by big business, later played by a wonderfully gruff Bill Paterson), he’s less convincing.
The second half indeed descends into a mawkish flight into the third dimension and spiritual re-awakening. In between, hang on for a stylistically dazzling rollercoaster ride.
Young Robert: Brian Ferguson.
Grace/Receptionist/Jogger: Polly Frame.
Freya: Anna Madeley.
Steve: Geoffrey Streatfeild.
Tom: Gary Carr.
Jasmine: Jessica Raine.
Sarah: Lia Williams.
Simon/Roy: Tom Godwin.
Colin: Tom Goodman-Hill.
Supermarket Worker/Young Man/TIm: Syrus Lowe.
Casey/Old Woman/Sally/Liberty: Maggie Service.
Peter: Bryony Hannah.
Businessman/Barman/Student/Doctor Harris.: Clive Hayward.
Carter: Michael Gould.
Mrs Andrews: Anne Lacey.
Daniel: Clive Hayward.
Robert: Bill Paterson.
Maryna: Lucy May Barker.
Director: Rupert Goold.
Designer: Miriam Buether.
Lighting: Howard Harrison.
Sound: Gregory Clarke.
Music: Alex Baranowski.
Projection Design: Jon Driscoll, Gemma Carrington.
Choreographer: Scott Ambler.
Costume: Katrina Lindsay.
Voice work: Jeannette Nelson.
Dramaturg: Ben Power.
Associate director: Caroline Steinbeis