How many climate sceptics does it take to change a lightbulb? None. It’s more cost-effective to live in the dark.
For a group of activists in David Finnigan’s play, however, the solution is a little more drastic. When Environment Minister Gwen Malkin fails to explain the process of geoengineering the government are proposing to employ in the fight against climate change, and doesn’t make a case for the amount of money that will be spent on it, a group of environmentalists decide they have no choice but to take matters into their own hands. Feeling ignored and disregarded, they put a lethal plan into action on the night of a big Fleetwood Mac concert…
In our era of so-called ‘balanced’ reporting, it can be easy to fall into the trap of pussy-footing around the subject or being drowned out; there is a tendency to be overly aware of causing the slightest offence, instead of putting the facts across assertively & clearly. Finnigan has clearly had enough of this approach, and Kill Climate Deniers is the result. Everything about the play is bold and in-your-face – from the title to the politics, and the dark humour that lies at the heart of it.
For all its craziness, it’s an incredibly thought-provoking piece of work. The title is obviously fairly controversial, as it could be very easy to jump to conclusions about the play, and label it as incitement without actually seeing it or reading the playtext for any kind of context. The idea of jokes being especially offensive or seemingly inciting violence of some kind is almost as hot a topic as climate change (just ask Jo Brand), so it’s interesting to consider what exactly constitutes incitement – and who, if anyone, can get away with it.
Finnigan’s gung-ho approach to the content is matched by artful direction from Nic Connaughton and intelligent use of media; the play is narrated and deconstructed by Finig (the playwright in character form) as the rest of the company burst in and out of various doors, taking on various different personalities as well as their main roles. Will Monks’ video design adds an extra dimension, both before and during the show, though if you’re sat in certain spots the size of the screens may prove a hindrance. Music also plays a big part, thankfully (I think?) going down the 80s/90s rave route rather than mining Shania Twain’s entire back catalogue – not only is it useful for scene transitions, but it also proves to be vital for some high octane, high comedy sequences later on.
Nathan Coenen oversees proceedings as Finig, clearly having a whale of a time with this wacky play including the potential unpredictability of his co-stars’ actions and the audience’s reactions, displaying great comic timing and awareness of the performance space. Bec Hill is strong as ringleader Catch, obviously passionate about her beliefs and feeling forced into this course of action – though she can’t hide the fact that she’s rather pleased with herself about how smoothly it’s all gone. Opposite her as Gwen Malkin, Felicity Ward is incredibly funny; her experience in comedy comes up trumps as she nails one-liner after one-liner, and she gets even more hilarious as Malkin starts to really enjoy herself.
It’s quite incredible that something so all-out hilarious manages to drive home the big points so well, allowing Finnigan the catharsis he needed in writing it. Whilst the title may suggest that the play will be a 90-minute attack on climate deniers and a call to arms for the likes of Extinction Rebellion, it’s actually more considered than you might think – and a vital part of the climate conversation.
My verdict? A crazy show that’s surprisingly considered, as well as cathartic, raising big points & big laughs – a vital part of the climate conversation.
Kill Climate Deniers runs at The Pleasance (Downstairs) until 28 June 2019. Tickets are available online or from the box office.