David Finnigan strikes again with his refreshing commentary on the climate change debate with Scenes from the Climate Era, currently playing at Belvoir St Theatre.
As someone who has studied oceanography and ecology, I’m always a little concerned about creatives approaching science. Will it be too simple? Will it miss the point? Or, even worse, will it just be incorrect information? Right from the first scene, I breathed a sigh of relief as I realised that not only was David Finnigan cleverly presenting the real and present danger of climate change but that he had done his research.
Scenes from a Climate Era is a collection of 50 vignettes dating from the early 1980s to decades into the future, each exploring and discussing a small piece of climate change. Have no fear; there isn’t a denialist in sight; the hundreds of characters have all accepted the truth of climate change. The power of these little skits comes from the expression of the human response to the catastrophe. We get a glimpse of scientists working on the aftermath, citizens worried about the future, people living through natural disasters, couples considering their environmental footprints and the endless debate on the evils of renewable energy. Even John Howard gets a mention. In the final scene, Finnigan leaves us with the hope of what life could be like after the climate era.
The script stands alone as a powerful piece of writing but combined with Carissa Licciardello’s direction, Nick Schlieper’s sets and lighting and David Bergman’s music and sound design, the play comes alive. You won’t get any spoilers from me, but I will say the theatrical techniques add to the gravitas of the show. In a rarely-mentioned role, I want to shout out Vaishnavi Suryaprakash for her dramaturgical prowess. While I don’t know where the script started, I can say that the final version avoids being preachy and cliched!
It’s rare to have a cast that can flit between multiple characters so quickly and yet make each one unique. Harriet Gordon-Anderson, Abbie-Lee Lewis, Brandon McClelland, Ariadne Sgouros and Charles Wu effortlessly breathe an array of emotions into each scene. With such a strong cast, it’s not surprising that the audience laughs and cries with every passing moment.
While politicians continue to talk in circles about this crisis facing our planet, Scenes from a Climate Era does what the arts always do, gets to the heart of the matter and presents the truth for the world to understand. Bravo, Belvoir Bravo!
– The other Daniel Craig
Daniel Craig is an international performer and has established himself as a trusted theatre specialist on the Sydney Arts Scene. While he understands the technical side of theatre, Dan writes for the everyday theatregoer (unlike some of those more prominent publications). When not in the audience, he loves to travel the world trying new gin. Follow him on all the socials @talldancraig
Scenes from the Climate Era runs for 1 hour 20 mins (no interval) and plays at Belvoir St Theatre through 25 June 2023. Tickets are available through the Belvoir St Theatre Box Office.
Disclosure: The Plus Ones were guests of Kabuku PR.
Image credit: Brett Boardman.