by Moirs Buffine, Matt Charman, Penelope Skinner, Jack Thorne.

Lyttelton Theatre Upper Ground South Bank SE1 9PX In rep to 2 April 2011.

7.30 10-12, 14, 15, 22, 23,28 Feb, 1, 8, 10, 15, 16 March, 1, 2 April.
2.15pm 12,15, 23 Feb, 1, 10 March, 2 April.
2.30pm 13 March.
Captioned 1 March 7.30pm.
Runs 2hr No interval.

TICKETS 020 7452 3000.
Review: Carole Woddis 2 February.

Worthy, but I’ll eat my hat if it stops plastic wrapping.
The National Theatre have had a couple of cracks now at climate change but Steve Waters’ The Contingency Plan at the infinitely less resourced Bush Theatre is still to my mind the most convincing attempt, thus far, to put the dilemmas facing planet Earth on stage.

Waters’ secret was integrating personal lives alongside political and ecological issues with a depth and integrity neither Mike Bartlett’s Earthquakes in London nor this combined effort from Moira Buffini, Matt Charman, Penelope Skinner and Jack Thorne have yet been able to muster.

It’s certainly commendable that the National is taking the climate age issue so seriously. There’s a battery of platforms and debates embedded in the schedule alongside the play.

But too often Greenland ends up sounding like dry didacticism despite Bijan Sheibani’s whizzbang production which includes polar landscapes (with its very own lumbering animatronic bear), swooping guillermots, back-projected graphs and starts off with a bang – a rave up and a youngster, Simon Manyonda coming forward to give us a a clever, streetwise dissertation about how even when something as serious as smoke in a room is before your very eyes, human nature tends to follow the majority and if the majority are saying there’s no smoke, that’s what you begin to believe too. Point taken.

From there we cut to various storylines that only really gather momentum towards the end of the two hours. It’s a long time to wait.

The quartet of writers do try and mix personal and political. There is a young eco activist Lisa (played with some force by an aerialised newcomer Isabella Laughland); there is a climate scientist (Peter McDonald) who having seen the worst case scenarios still wants to have a family by Lyndsey Marshal’s determined climate change government Minister; and there is a wry, choreographed view of the impossibility that was the UN Climate conference in Copenhagen in which Amanda Lawrence (a familiar face from the Kneehigh ensemble) shows what can be done with a minimum of gestures and lines.

All in all, it’s worthy but if it stops one person from buying another plastic wrapped ready-meal I’ll eat my hat.

Cast: James Alper, Tobi Bakare, Natasha Broomfield, Elzabeth Chan, Michael Gould, Tamzin Griffin, Isabella Laughland, Amanda Lawrence, Tunji Lucas, Paul McCleary, Peter McDonald, Simon Manyonda, Lyndsey Marshal, Rhys Rusbatch, Sam Swann.

Director: Bijan Sheibani.
Designer: Bunny Christie
Lighting: Jon Clark.
Sound/Music Dan Jones.
Movement director: Aline David.
Company Voice work: Jeannette Nelson, Kate Godfrey.
Puppetry: Mark Down.
Fight director: Kate Waters.
Dramaturg: Ben Power.

2011-02-04 10:37:13

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