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There’s a touch of nihilism to Hypok Theatre’s play Treading Water. Three characters are waiting on an iceberg for help, though the sign they have made to signal for help reads “hel” for most of the performance.
A striking visual scene opens the show. Charlie Lloyd in white clothes as a polar bear paces up and down the stage. Sitting behind him looking aggressively sullen atop a platform ladder, which is decked out with pages of a newspaper and string, is the predatory skua bird, mostly in black (Aidan Alexander).
Living up to his reputation, he stirs up worries and division among the two polar bears who share his space. At regular intervals, he will pass on news of climate catastrophe either directly or by playing a news item on the radio. Not that any of them can do anything about it, floating miles from anywhere on their slab of ice.
David Attenborough takes pictures from a passing ship, but that’s for a documentary and he doesn’t stop to help them despite the polar bears shouting, “David come back here.” The skua simply points out that an average cruise ship generates the equivalent CO2 of 25,000 cars.
Eventually, while the mother bear (Holly Darville) goes looking for food, the skua tells the father bear that mother has been sleeping with other bears so their children are probably not his, but they might make a tasty meal.
Maybe all this is meant to be a version of Waiting for Godot in which they are Waiting for David, while the skua representing the government tries to sow divisions and encourage us to eat our children.
It’s a peculiar play but maybe there’s some truth in their pessimistic vision of government.
Reviewer: Keith Mckenna