Kill Climate Deniers
November 3rd, 2021
Kill Climate Deniers centres on a hostage situation at a Fleetwood Mac concert. Yep, you read that right. A performance at Parliament House attended by the movers and shakers of the Australian upper crust is hit by a terrorist cell of radical left-leaning climate activists. Hilarity ensues.
This Martin McDonagh-esque black comedy sets out to explode the stale and repetitious climate change debate by giving us exhilarating and terrifying ‘what ifs’ with immediate and violent consequences (but with tongue always firmly in cheek). With real-world global emissions targets centering around dates like 2030 and 2050, this play puts a gun to the audience’s head and says, ‘think about this NOW’.
IO Performance’s production both benefits and suffers from the incredible cosmic timing of the Glasgow climate discussions occurring during its season. The urgency with which the play treats the issue coupled with the daily news updates from the conference really gives the impression that this little play is participating in the global discussions, which is wonderful. On the other hand, the saturation of climate change information of late sometimes serves to make the exposition in this piece feel a little mistimed (it should be noted that had IO’s season not been disrupted by the pandemic, this may not have been an issue).
David Finnigan’s script endeavours to give voice to every side of the ‘argument’. While this could come across as non-committal or trying to ‘have its cake and eat it too’ (and it comes dangerously close to this in one anti-scientist monologue), the writer succeeds in representing every person and corporation who has a horse in the race in the climate change ‘debate’ while still delivering the message that humans are, irrefutably, the cause of dangerous global warming. Far from proselytising, Finnigan takes a ‘spoonful of sugar approach (the sugar here being ultraviolence played for laughs) and creates a uniquely Australian play while tackling a global issue. My only criticism (and perhaps this could have been addressed in rehearsals) is that the play runs a little too long to not have an interval but is also too short to fully justify one.
Director Grace Roberts, who was, impressively, responsible for every design element of the production, has succeeded in creating a show with an epic scope in a tiny performance space. The massive set dominates the IO HQ theatre in what is, without a doubt, the most creative use of the space to date. What is most impressive is that not a single square inch of the venue is wasted, with the events of the play unfolding throughout the entire building. This, coupled with a refreshingly utilitarian lighting design and some clever A/V and sound design, makes this production an efficient vehicle for tidy story telling. The destruction that occurs on stage throughout the play, systematically ruining the set each night, gives the audience the impression that they have witnessed a one-off experience, a delightful reminder that a theatre ticket buys you something that a ticket to the cinema never can.
Kill Climate Deniers features a killer cast, and every actor is afforded the opportunity to make the audience smile, smirk, or cackle. As the play descends into delicious farce (I don’t want to spoil a single gag in this review) the performances across the board really take off. While not every performance is created equal, this production has a strong sense of ensemble and the audience always feels in safe hands. Every character is distinct, and each performer communicates their part clearly (save for a few lost lines spoken far upstage). I must make special mention of the young Eva Cetti, whose performance bookends the events of the play, for holding her own in a cast of adult actors, most of whom have received formal training.
Some highlights include Renée Bakker as the bumbling (and subsequently badass) Minister for the Environment, who has impeccable comic timing and has created a performance that is both farcical and truthful, with subtleties that make for some of the night’s best work, especially during the filmed sequences.
Equally as masterful, Katie Hill’s performance as the head of the terrorist cell cements her status as one of our city’s best performers. Never afraid to look an audience member in the eye and effortlessly cool on stage, Hill makes acting look easy.
My one major gripe with the production is that the piece opens with some grim footage of climate discussions and disasters, which sets an earnest tone for this black comedy that it then has to spend the first few minutes trying to shake, and it makes the first few chuckles from the audience tentative ones. This is, however, done away with once the story gets rolling and the audience learns the cracking sense of humour of Finnigan’s script and Roberts’ vision.
Kill Climate Deniers runs from the 3rd – 6th, 10th – 13th of November at IO HQ and is well worth your time.
Review by Jimmy Harrison