You're Safe Til 2024: Deep History
David Finnigan and the Barbican, London
When making a play about the horrors and unstoppable slow catastrophe that is climate change, it’s useful to pivot around something that is tangible and real. It’s also a great way to explain deep history and, as we are told by David Finnigan in You’re Safe til 2024: Deep History, it’s also important to have a protagonist.
Written during the 75 hours during which the Canberra bushfires raged during the Antipodean midsummer of 2019, Finnigan relates the events that he watched from the UK ravaging his home and threatening the lives of people he loved there. As a thematic mirror to this, David explains the deep history of mankind’s ability to bounce back from major disasters through six pivotal moments he views as essential to understanding ourselves.
The play, Deep History, is part of the six-year project delving into the ecological disasters humanity has wrought and the very real pressing issue of climate change, and the unavoidable future we are now stuck in. The performance ties in a lot of sage information as well as framing it within a humanising and relatable story. Finnigan is an entertaining host, with just the right amount of charisma and charm to overstep any problems and make light of technical flaws in the production, while still feeling sincere about the messages within it.
The problem with the piece is that, self-admittedly, it loses focus towards the end, which detracts from the power of everything leading up to that point. While the first half feels like Johnny Ball, condensing Sapiens into bullet points with the use of some simple props, the end falls apart a little, and while still having a coherent message and an emotional satisfaction, loses a lot of the momentum that was carrying the audience along with the science and message.
Reviewer: Graeme Strachan