Planet Phuckett! (the COVID edition)

Dan Kinch, inspired by the writings of Dr. Guy McPherson
Brooklyn Culture Jam
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Planet Phuckett! (the COVID edition)

Planet Phuckett!, originally staged in 2016, has been updated to refer to the current COVID pandemic. The show is factually based, inspired by the writings of Dr. Guy McPherson, and seeks to demonstrate that, amongst other things, global warming could thin the ice sheets and release toxic methane gasses making humanity extinct by 2030.

The show is presented as an eccentric lecture on forthcoming ecological disasters by retired college lecturer Doctor Light (Dan Kinch, who wrote the play). The doctor explains, in order to stimulate the interest of his students, he took to lecturing while wearing fancy dress and using puppets. Hence, for today’s lecture he is dressed as The Grim Reaper and using a polar bear puppet.

One sympathises with the doctor’s students. The introduction to the lecture is meandering, taking a long time to get going and featuring some weak gags. There are some people who, made aware of impending disaster, will undertake research and prepare for the event while others simply do not want to know. The latter are called ‘Americans’. The presentation is not polished. As Doctor Light uses a hockey stick to demonstrate a timeline of events, his voice trails off as if losing interest.

Planet Phuckett! is not a balanced or nuanced show. Kinch does not include any science-based theories to act as balance to those set out in the show but rather dismisses anyone with a contrary view as a religious zealot or a conspiracy theorist. Public response to the COVID pandemic has shown, while some people might disregard scientific advice because they are idiots, others do so because of economic or social pressures.

Vibrant personalities like Greta Thunberg or David Attenborough have demonstrated how the public imagination can be captured and indignation stirred by passionate and powerful arguments. Yet the tone of Planet Phuckett! is defeatist. Towards the conclusion, Dan Kinch looks exhausted as if worn out by public indifference and not really believing the arguments in the play will make any impact. Planet Phuckett! features some interesting and disturbing ideas but does not work as a call-to-arms.

Reviewer: David Cunningham