Are We Not Drawn Onward to New ErA review at Zoo Southside, Edinburgh – ‘fascinating palindromic drama’
If you can bear to sit through 35 minutes of very testing, very incomprehensible movement and sound, the payoff for Ontroerend Goed’s show is completely worth it.
The Belgian company’s take on the climate crisis, while initially trying, is a very clever piece of theatre. During the 35-minute first half, actors walk around the stage in strange ways, their movements awkward and unnatural. One destroys a tree, root and branch, others spread hundreds of plastic bags across the stage. A 10ft Oscar-esque golden statue is assembled.
Then there’s the switch. Without giving too much away, the palindromic title of the show starts to make sense. We start going backwards, and the show’s theme of irreversible ecological disaster becomes powerfully clear.
The rewind starts with simple things, the statue dismantled and plastic bags cleared up, but steadily the acts become more impossible. There’s an imperceptible point where the work to restore the stage to its Eden-like state becomes physically impossible. Gravity goes only one way, and some things cannot be magicked back to neutrality.
One strange aspect of the show is that they do destroy a tree on stage every performance, which seems a bit self-defeating. But otherwise this is a strange and extraordinary piece of theatre.
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