Venue: White Bear Theatre. 138 Kennington Park Road, London SE11 4DJ
Credits: Written by Brad Sutherland. Directed by Kenneth Michaels. Produced by Maiden Productions.
Just Stop Extinction Rebellion
At the interval I observed in my notes that this is a play about group dynamics whose setting happens to be a climate change protest group but could just as easily be church, golf club or choral society. Then I read the programme and found the playwright, Brad Sutherland, making exactly the same point.
Millicent (Louise Bangay), full of edgy privilege, joins the group and finds wary chemistry with Ben (James Price), a troubled, newly single accountant. The scenes between the two of them and their gradual working towards a relationship that neither really wants are the best thing in this play. Both actors are convincing, engaging listeners and we really do feel their pain, awkwardness and, sometimes joy.
Alongside them are three other group members. Stephen Riddle is a versatile actor (best as Millicent’s reasonable, decent, well connected husband) although his work as petulant George, the group leader in too much like a caricacature. Orsolya Nagy gives us an overstated Gaia (and doubles as Ben’s wife) who has, in Millicent’s tart words, “invented a religion”. Hilary Field does a pleasing job as the elderly Mrs Warboys.
The wiring is often very funny – Millicent throws ten dozen eggs at posh cars in Barnes and then worries about where to recycle the boxes. Mrs Warboys disco dancing with the others is fun too. And there’s a lot of witty dialogue.
This play is much stronger in the first half when the emphasis in on marriage, commitment and friendship. After the interval it suddenly seems to remember its title and there’s loss of focus as it gets more bogged down in the minutiae of climate change issues and the most effective way to protest. The rugby scrum ending is an odd cop-out too because we leave the theatre not really sure of what happened to any of these characters.
It feels like a play with potential, staged by enthusiasts. Come to think of it, it could just as easily have been set in an am-dram group.
First published by Sardines: https://www.sardinesmagazine.co.uk/review/just-stop-extinction-rebellion/