The Pleasance (venue)
07 June 2019 (released)
09 June 2019
“As you know, the sun is very hot.” Climate change is possibly the most prevalent and debated topics of recent years. Unlike more clear cut issues, it is one that has so much grey area over what is acceptable to believe, and when you really look into it, you can see why. For that reason, David Finnigan’s play Kill Climate Deniers was always going to cause quite a stir. Discussing various points of view with a surprisingly open mind considering the title, Pleasance Theatre’s revival of the 2016 Australian play pulls few punches with a great many laughs along the way.
The play is split into two parallel running stories: that of writer Finnigan (shortened to Finig in the script), played by Nathan Coenen, as he chronicles the reaction to this play he is writing; and that of fictional Minister for the Environment Gwen Malkin, and her role in stopping a terrorist attack on Parliament House. Playing Malkin with electric sharp wit and phenomenal delivery, comedian Felicity Ward is excellent. Forced into the role of reluctant hero, Malkin must face off against a group of eco-terrorists holding a concert hostage and demanding that climate change be solved that very night. This more narrative side to the play develops quickly into a pseudo Die Hard tale, bursting with violence and elevated by club and house hits from the late eighties and early nineties.
Director Nic Connaughton handles the eclectic nature of the writing well, throwing in impressive lighting design and keeping the staging interesting. Connaughton’s strength, though, is realising that the show belongs to the actors, and brilliantly animated performances keep us invested and thoroughly entertained through long speeches. There is not a weak link in the cast, each of them nailing the self aware, endlessly quotable back and forth.
Finnigan’s script is effortlessly hilarious in one liners, the main story helped along by revealing interjections by Finig from the sidelines. But the fantasy narrative only takes meaning when complimented by Finig’s soliloquys, outlining just how many people were against the play’s production, and the various hoops he jumped through to get it to the stage it is now at. Though they seem honest, these sections feel a little held back – like the man who wrote that title had changed somewhat by the end of the process. In discussing the opposing sides of this argument, Finig’s summations are incredibly astute, respectful, but above all, utterly pessimistic. The play introduces fascinating concepts such as the changes necessary to accept climate science, though it feels like Finnigan doesn’t really think those changes are possible. His words are imbued with personal emotion and frustration, but considering the hostility he has faced thus far, his lack of optimism might be depressingly appropriate.
Finnigan’s play has rightly been awarded with accolades, but continues to take on new life as: “an ebook, a film script, a walking tour of Parliament House, a dance party, and an original album by producer Reuben Ingall.” It is difficult to guess the relative power of the piece in each of those mediums, but as for this run of the stage play at Pleasance Theatre – power is just one of the many reasons to catch it as soon as possible.