Crash and Burn
theSpace @ Niddry St
Crash and Burn tunes into some of the most pertinent political worries around the climate debate. Many activists are sceptical about the fossil fuel giants leaving trillions in the ground and walking away poorer. Certainly, the way corporations have funded climate denial and then later techniques of delay should concern us all.
At best, their so-called sustainability efforts seem designed to “kick the can down the road” and are often spoken of as greenwashing. But it helps keep politicians safely in their pockets.
This can leave climate activists deeply frustrated. Electoral politics and the usual run of pressure group politics including the non-violent Just Stop Oil protests can feel futile. There will be some who are denied a voice, and are faced with the destruction of everything they love, who might regard violence as necessary to stop the climate catastrophe.
Will Leckie’s play set on a private jet travelling to COP 26 brings together a group of characters reflecting these different strands of potential conflict.
On one side of the plane sits oil billionaire Joseph Johnson (Nick Gill). To his left is Margot (Claudia Rosier), the Director of Sustainability for the company. On his right sits his daughter, Jane (Emily Gibson).
Sitting across from them is the rich celebrity Amodius Vassano (Will Leckie), who claims to be very interested in safeguarding the environment, even though he owns about twenty-five private jets. His PA, Cynthia (Lydia Clay-White), is accompanying him on the trip.
The flight attendant, Lewis (Noah Miller), soon reveals he is an activist with the environmental organisation CGE, who threatens to crash the plane, killing all on board, unless Johnson confesses to all his crimes, which include numerous deaths of protesters in Mexico and Nigeria. It also turns out that a member of Johnson’s organisation has accumulated evidence that would convict him of the murder of a British journalist.
The dramatic clash of positions is interesting and important. The writer also gives the characters distinctive forms rather than simply making them mouthpieces for politics.
However, it does try to take on an awful lot in fifty minutes, and the actors occasionally can seem exaggerated, as if unsure if the show is supposed to be realism or satire.
Will Leckie sometimes gives a Spitting Image knockabout feel to the rich celebrity Amodius, and, for a good deal of time, there is a strange, mad grin on the face of eco-terrorist Lewis.
This is an ambitious play, dealing with very important issues too often ignored by the media. It is well worth seeing, but with a bit more work, it could be so much better.
Reviewer: Keith Mckenna