The Knowing

Imogen Wilde
Bones in Motion Theatre
Brockley Jack Studio Theatre

Imogen Wilde Credit: Rebecca Rayne
Rebecca Crankshaw Credit: Rebecca Rayne
Andre Bullock and Imogen Wilde Credit: Rebecca Rayne
Jilly Bond Credit: Rebecca Rayne
Jilly Bond and Sushant Shekhar Credit: Rebecca Rayne
Sushant Shekhar Credit: Rebecca Rayne

Imogen Wilde’s assertive and thought-provoking debut play is set in the very near future to take an enterprising look at the climate crisis and the tussle between those who take action to protect the planet’s future and those whose self-interest drives the fight against a widespread rejection of fossil fuels.

Activist Millie is in need of escape from her public profile and arrives at a unique retreat in the remote Highlands of Scotland. It is a gated paradise of eco-responsibility maintained and nurtured by its residents—now burnt-out former climate scientists and campaigners.

Amongst these like-minded individuals, the climate crisis is talked about knowledgeably, without histrionics or sermonising and most importantly without getting bogged down in minutiae. There are no discussions about recycling bins or solar panels but there are about the inequity between the responsibilities of developing and developed countries, and scientists who, constrained by their own conventions, failed to reach the masses with the import of their findings.

In a few satirical vignettes that don’t sit entirely comfortably amid the other more subtle, cleverly formed scenes, the baddies are portrayed as fiddling British apparatchiks, whilst bullying John Wayne-striding, Stetson-wearing Texans see to it that Rome burns.

It is a minor blemish in writing that is enriched by efficiency and clear-sightedness. Particularly strong is the portrayal of the relationships between the characters, quickly and convincingly established and developed as foundations upon which to grow the tension of this eco-thriller.

With Millie, Imogen Wilde has written herself a great part that she plays confidently. It shows off her versatility, particularly the variance of Millie sounding younger than her years, which gives her character additional depth.

Outstanding in a batch of strong performances is Rebecca Crankshaw, magnetically intelligent and convincing as no-nonsense scientist Ruth.

Jilly Bond as the gentle-hearted hippyish Sylvie long estranged from her family for her beliefs, Sushant Shekhar as Ramesh sent from India where his campaigning for justice was unwelcome and Millie’s love interest Jay who fought against pollution, played engagingly by Andre Bullock, don’t put a foot wrong between them under Oliver Stephens’s direction.

His careful pacing discreetly creates a creepy tension, but the point of focus is always guided back to the climate emergency, the wrecking of the planet and the unequal resources of the opposing sides. It makes it very hard to leave this play without a sense of incitement, be it to act or shoulder a smouldering anger at the way the world has been sold out by successive leaders who should be securing its future.

Reviewer: Sandra Giorgetti

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