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Kill Climate Deniers review at Pleasance Theatre, London – ‘staid, shallow and charmless’

Felicity Ward and Bec Hill in Kill Climate Deniers at Pleasance Theatre, London. Photo: Ali Wright
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Dwelling more on the early history of rave music than on the impending ecological catastrophe facing our planet, Kill Climate Deniers is an irreverent and boldly-staged blurt of nihilistic absurdism.

Playwright David Finnigan has written extensively for Australian science-theatre collective Boho, but this piece serves as a frenetic counterpoint to such calm debate. It’s a garbled yell of frustration channelled through the story of a gaffe-prone environment minister, Gwen Malkin, going full John McClane when eco terrorists strike during a Fleetwood Mac concert.

Making her UK stage debut as the gun-toting politician in question, comic Felicity Ward carries the show with boundless energy and some well-judged ad-libs. Hannah Ellis Ryan delivers a powerfully bleak monologue depicting our now almost inevitable future, while Nathan Coenen cuts in now and then as navel-gazing authorial voice Finig, second-guessing his choices and pointing out the clever bits.

Director Nic Connaughton gives it a daft and hyperactive treatment, with performances pitched somewhere between play-acting and knowing mugging to the audience. Slow-motion gunfights and whiplash-inducing tonal swerves suit the material, but by the second protracted dance-off sequence it all feels wearyingly self-indulgent.

Sound designer Kirsty Gillmore backs the production with a galvanising wall of electronica, featuring throbbing dance classics and crackly, claustrophobic electronic effects. The show opens with a crisply-edited barrage of hard-right media personalities angrily denouncing their enemies – the scientists, optimists, and activists prepared to demand positive, proactive change.

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Despite a provocative title, this staid, shallow and mostly charmless comic romp fails to convince