Theater review: Kill the climate deniers

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Kill the climate deniers is hard to categorize: Kinetik Collective describes it as “part action movie parody, part political satire, part rave party wrapped in a piece of documentary theatre.”

All that is correct, and it is much more.

The plot of Kill the climate deniers is composed of two elements. The first is a fictional scenario, which sees eco-terrorists storming Parliament during a concert, holding the entire government hostage and threatening to execute everyone unless Australia immediately ends the global warming.

The second element, scattered between the scenes of the raid, is an account of the tumult that surrounded Kill the climate deniers after its conception.

For context, in 2014 Australian playwright David Finnigan was commissioned to develop a play about climate change and Australian politics, which he named Kill the climate deniers. The play met with rapid backlash, particularly in response to the title, which saw its original development halted.

This answer is now part of this production, and Finnigan wrote himself into the work to explain how the world received his original piece. Finnigan’s character is played by Eddie Morrison, who offers a sensitive and intelligent portrayal, embodying the complexity of writing itself.

In a play about politics and climate change, the environment minister is, of course, a figurehead. Anna Steen, who plays fictional minister Gwen Malkin, hilariously engages with the satirical elements of her political persona, while simultaneously playing the role of humanity. This makes her sympathetic to both sides of the climate debate.

The multimedia design, by Dave Court, adds a compelling visual layer of satirical expression. The green screens are deliberately ‘low-fi’ and clunky, and there are Snapchat filters to portray conservative critic Andrew Bolt and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones – they’re as funny as they are unsettling. The design is amazingly complemented by an original soundtrack, composed and performed live by Mat Morison.

The set resembles a rockstar’s performance space, with a protruding stage that allows performers to be among the crowd. This choice, by designer and co-founder of Kinetik Bianka Kennedy, allows the actors to use the audience in the room as the hostages of Parliament, resulting in a passive participatory experience for the audience.

Kinetik director and co-founder Clara Solly-Slade, along with the cast of Kate Cheel, Katherine Sortini, Ren Williams, Morrison and Steen, do a stellar job of highlighting the extremism on either side of the narrative. : that of eco-terrorists as well as climate change deniers. It reveals the stillness in which we find ourselves; the conversations about climate change are louder and more frequent than ever, but no one is moving forward.

Kill the climate deniers remains more poignant than ever. Since its inception, there have been countless groups, on both sides of politics, rising up much like the eco-terrorists in Finnigan’s play. The plot of the hostage-taking is immediately reminiscent of the storming of the US Capitol on January 6.

Beneath satire and comedy, Kill the climate deniers is an urgent and compelling call for cooperation, communication and action, so that we can avoid a world where we have to block out the sun and cannot see the stars.

Kill the climate deniers is at Slingsby’s Hall of Possibilities until September 17, 2022.

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