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Culture

Barmy Post-Modern Play ‘Kill Climate Deniers’ Blazes Through The Pleasance Theatre

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Eco-terrorism meets late 80s rave in this funny, messy satire at the Pleasance Theatre.

“First thing I got wrong was the title,” is the opening line – said by an actor portraying the play’s writer David Finnigan.

It gets a good laugh because ‘Kill Climate Deniers’ is not only one of the most memorable titles you’ll hear this year, but a good part of the reason Finnigan’s play is becoming so well known.

Upon hearing that the playwright had received a $19,000 grant from the Australian government to develop his project four years ago, the right-wing media in his country went into outraged overdrive. They hadn’t read the play – the title was enough to get them foaming. Then a bunch of American shock jocks jumped on the bandwagon and before he knew it Finnigan was internationally infamous with climate deniers denouncing his work.

Depressingly, the funding was withdrawn and the original production cancelled, but the defiant Finnigan went on to develop the project as a concept album, an immersive walking tour, a radio play, and now the stage play itself, which can be seen in a European premiere at the Pleasance Theatre.

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Along the way Finnigan has put himself in it, so the barmy story of a gang of eco-terrorists storming Australia’s Parliament during a Fleetwood Mac concert just gets barmier as ‘Finig’ (Nathan Coenen) constantly interrupts to comment on the action and reveal the real life story behind his own battle to get it on the stage.

So, just like climate deniers themselves, it’s nuts. It’s also messy, funny, bizarre and punctuated by a terrific soundtrack of late ‘80s dance music (from a time, long ago, when climate scientists must have thought the world would take note of their, er, science).

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A crack cast of five fling themselves around the stage as concert-goer and Environment Minister Gwen Malkin (Australian comic Felicity Ward) literally goes to war with the terrorists. She’s filmed all the time by her PR guru Bekken (Kelly Paterniti), thus ensuring the minister’s Twitter account hits the stratosphere in a boost for her waning popularity. “If I’d known how many people retweet pics of murdered terrorists I’d have had you doing this months ago.”

So, we have a lot of satirical comment on social media, media hysteria, politicians and—of course—climate deniers, but I did wonder whether the message of what we’re actually doing to our planet sometimes got lost in this post-modern mélange. There is one very effective moment when a character talks about what’s in store for us in 30 years’ time if we carry on the way we are going – but it is quickly upstaged by a shooting spree soundtracked by Black Box’s Ride on Time. It might also have been interesting to hear more from the deniers as to how exactly they arrived at their conclusions.

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Ultimately, however, Finnigan does offer us a scintilla of hope and many in the audience were whooping along to the celebratory atmosphere – reminding us to make the most of what we have and rave against the dying of the light…

Kill Climate Deniers runs at the Pleasance Theatre until 28th June.

Words by Jonathan Lovett. Images courtesy of Ali Wright, with Designer Prinx Lydia, Lighting Designer Geoff Hence and Video Designer Will Monks.

Tags: satire, theatre