Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Review: 'Kill Climate Deniers' at the Pleasance, 11th June 2019

Kill Climate Deniers reviewed by David James
Rating: 3 Stars

A good title can go a long way - and Kill Climate Deniers is an absolute banger. Never underestimate the power of a pithy slogan, especially not one that's practically custom designed to rile up the asshole parade. 

Written by David Finnigan, Kill Climate Deniers is many things. At the core is a story about environmental protesters invading Australia's Parliament House during a Fleetwood Mac concert and holding the audience hostage. Wielding fluorescent orange AK-47s and pistols, their leader Catch (Bec Hill) threatens to execute everyone unless they stop climate change "tonight". 

The only thing standing in her way is plucky environment minister Gwen Malkin (Felicity Ward) and her press advisor Georgina (Kelly Paterniti), who have managed to take out one of the protesters and are now armed and fighting back.

But wait, there's more. Interspersed with the main narrative (which the show never takes particularly seriously) is a kind of live director's commentary in which Nathan Coenen plays playwright David Finnigan (here named 'Finig') discussing the controversial history of the play. Beyond that, there are David Foster Wallace-style footnotes as the play expounds in surprising depth about the particulars of late 80s dance music and the rise of rave culture.

So hey, at least Kill Climate Deniers isn't boring. The narrative merrily skips between tones: going from doleful sincerity as Finig predicts a depressing, slow and miserable apocalypse to a ludicrous slow-motion Spaced style mimed gunfight set to The Prodigy's Hyperspeed G-Force (Part 2) 

Then there's the verve awith which it's staged. Director Nic Connaughton and designer Prinx Lydia have managed a lot with very little - the set generally just consisting of three small CRT televisions. All that's amplified by impressively stylish costume design, with the protestors costumes having a rugged patched leather n' heavy eyeshadow Mad Max chic to them. Plus the impeccably curated soundtrack kicks ass.

But having tossed all these disparate ingredients into the mixer, does the finished product gel? Not really, but maybe that's the point. It quickly transpires that, despite the title, Kill Climate Deniers doesn't have much to say about climate change. Instead, it turns out to be far more interested in itself: a meta-commentary that results in a hall of mirrors effect where we're watching a play pondering its own existence and critiquing itself.

The most charitable interpretation is that Finnigan is interrogating the audience (and by extension himself) for allowing ourselves to get wrapped up in fantastical artifice and navel-gazing as we blithely ignore our very real impending doom. The least charitable is that the play doesn't actually have that much to say beyond a catchy title, and is attempting to camouflage that under layers of metafictional chicanery.

But again, at least it's not boring. The cast is uniformly brill (I particularly enjoyed Bec Hill's domineering stage presence), the play looks great from start to finish and it is genuinely funny. I just wish it was a little less self-obsessed.

Kill Climate Deniers is at the Pleasance until 28 June. Tickets here.

Photos by Ali Wright

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