BWW REVIEW: Politics And Science Come Together In KILL CLIMATE DENIERS, A Contemporary Comic Thriller
Thursday 1st March 2018, 7pm, SBW Stables Kings Cross
Hilarious and thought provoking, David Finnigan's KILL CLIMATE DENIERS both entertains and engages the audience to consider their position on science and politics. Directed by Griffin Theatre's Artistic Director Lee Lewis, this work, first commissioned for Aspen Island Theatre company in 2014, has finally made it to the Australian Stage following being awarded the 2017 Griffin Theatre Playwriting Award.
The controversial work originally received backlash from media heavyweights and politicians when it received ArtsACT funding in 2014, leading to the original staging being cancelled and the work being presented in a variety of forms except the theatre stage. Whilst political commentator Andrew Bolt and then opposition arts spokesman, Liberal Brendan Smyth took issue with the work in the belief that the work condones murder and terrorism, it is clear from this production that violence was not Finnigan's intent in this thought provoking black comedy which has now been updated to include reference to these setbacks. The work is part play, documentary, political statement and science lesson, whilst also being an exploration into the playwright's personal process of creating the work and insight into his eclectic tastes in high energy club music.
The work centres on the rather inept Environment Minister Gwen Malkin (Rebecca Massey) preparing to attend a Fleetwood Mac concert at Parliament House following a rather dreadful radio interview with talkback host Jalan Ones. Malkin is permanently attended by her press advisor, Georgina Bekken (Sheridan Harbridge) who is intent on trying to minimise the damage and raise her boss' profile through the use of social media on her ever-present smart phone which also stores a large collection of dance music with which Bekken enhances the mood. The concert is the target of a terrorist cell let by Catch (Lucia Mastrantone) who's aim is to interrupt the concert and take hostages in order to coerce the Prime Minister into making rapid changes to the country's environmental policy in order to protect future generations from oppressive heat and scarce resources.
Designer Jonathan Hindmarsh has given Lewis an adaptable space for the work which switches between dramatic representation and 'writer' (Eden Falk) narration and explanation. The audience is greeted with a rolling projection of Griffin Theatre's 'credits' illuminating transparent plastic that boarders the stage. This also allows for an inventive expression of the night sky before a catwalk stage, complete with a central pole, is revealed behind which are two marbled white panels and a two long screens. The props are basic chairs and a raised dais that adds to the variance in height meaning that the spaces are inferred by the performance when not expressly described by the 'writer'. Whilst Falk carries a multimedia clicker to advance the images on the screens, the rest of the technology and weapons props are presented in Perspex, removing commercial connections and adding to the fantasy of the work. Lighting designer Trent Suidgeest has been inventive with his expression of the changing spaces and events. He draws the audience in to the story with the projection of laser sights targeting the each member of the audience as the gun battle erupts and incorporates disco lighting when Bekken adds in dance music. Steve Toulmin's sound design incorporates Finnigan's extensive list of songs to accompany the story along with sounds of the battle and the helicopter than proves to be Catch's downfall.
Whilst each of the five performers have a core character that they inhabit, Eden Falk, Rebecca Massey, Sheridan Harbridge, Emily Havea and Lucia Mastrantone double in the other minor roles with the use of minor costume changes and a variety of different voices. Falk is brilliant as the young writer, presenting the explanation of the work and understanding of the science with a pace that varies to capture the comedy as well as the importance of the work without becoming too serious. Massey gives Malkin the requisite diva attitude and ignorance that one would expect from an ineffective politician who may be appointed to a portfolio but have no real understanding of the importance of it, seeking to please the populace over making decisions based on hard evidence. As Bekken, Harbridge is hilarious as she captures the younger woman's earnestness to attend to Malkin to whom she seems to be more of a personal assistant that just a press advisor. Harbridge takes on a number of other roles, including an absurd expression of 'Fleetwood Mac', with her trademark vigour and flair for distorted and over the top accents.
The petite Mastrantone presents Catch, the somewhat neurotic leader of the terrorists, with a twitchy enthusiasm of a chihuahua wanting to take on the bigger opponent. Her athleticism is exhibited in a fabulous final scene and her physicality for mime is captivating, particularly when Catch 'exhibits' her vast collection of weapons. As Beverly Ile, Havea exudes the snearing gravitas of a journalist hoping to take down her next target and further propel her career whilst not really caring for the outcome for her audience. As Catch's assistant Throat, Havea presents the 'live broadcast' of the prospects for the world with a captivating intensity and brutal honesty whilst maintaining a steady and calm tone, forcing the audience to consider the world she is describing without excess emotion.
Regardless of what your views may be on climate science, KILL CLIMATE DENIERS is intriguing and entertaining. With astute observation of the machinations of Australia's political system, hilarious physical humour and detailed accurate scientific explanation, this work will appeal to everyone and is important viewing for everyone.
23 February - 7 April 2018
SBW Stables Theatre