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Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow

Lou Stein

Chickenshed Credit: Daniel Beacock
Ashley Driver Credit: Daniel Beacock
Chickenshed Credit: Daniel Beacock

There are going to be no exceptions to the threat of catastrophic climate change. It will affect all our lives.

With a huge cast, Chickenshed’s Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow takes us from its impact on places from the Arctic to Africa touching on issues such as the extinction of species, extreme weather patterns, the refugee crises, draught and the rationing of water.

The show is narrated by the gentle, conversational voice of imagined climate change artist Oscar Buhari (Ashley Driver) from the North of England but with family links to Africa.

He guides us through events mostly illustrated by song, dance and movement of some impressive dancers and singers but he occasionally drops into his reflections a shocking scientific “prediction”.

We begin with thirty-odd figures walking through the Arctic wastes in a dim blue light. In contrast, New Orleans before Katrina is a blaze of colour, exciting music and dancing that soon with Katrina becomes a chaos of suffering.

A young woman describes its impact as she climbs a mound of bodies before being sucked down into it, as so many were by the ferocious water.

Onto the screen to the back of the stage is projected the guilty face of George Walker Bush staring down at the New Orleans death below from the safety of his plane.

A group of refugees in their own country draped in American flags sing a bitter rewrite of the United States national anthem “The Star-Spangled Banner”.

Oscar tells us that a 4% rise in temperature will wipe out 70% of the species on the planet. Some will try to escape north, upsetting the ecological balance of surviving countries.

Millions of people will be on the move and the image of refugees occurs many times in the show, sometimes as walking crowds. There is a scene where family members become separated as if the loss and suffering was not enough. As one of them points out, they are the “victims of what other people have caused”.

And there is the inevitable capsizing of boats.

Dave Carey’s strong compositions underscore the emotional impact of the dance sequences that, for all the horror of the subject matter, are exciting and always upbeat. The same can be said of the songbook raided for such as Joni Mitchell’s sarcastic “Big Yellow Taxi” and Chickenshed’s unique take on Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow”.

The mood is hopeful and Oscar talks about the ways we can make a difference that might save not only our own lives but also those of people we have never met living a long way away.

To have raised the issue is important. To have entertained us with such an imminent danger is remarkable.

Reviewer: Keith Mckenna