Monday, 10 November 2014
Theatre review: 2071
It has a set - Chloe Lamford supplies a tunnel made up of three screens, on which monochrome charts and maps are projected - and music by Paul Clark playing quietly underneath it. But in every other respect the show rejects theatricality to such an extent it's hard to agree with Mitchell or, to be honest, see exactly what contribution she as director has made.
A scientist doesn't have to be charismatic but nor are the two mutually exclusive, so while Rapley may have the best knowledge for the job, it seems perverse not to have chosen someone with the tiniest ability to engage with an audience. What's most unusual is that, for someone whose potted life story describes a lifelong fascination with his subject, he has no ability, or even apparently any desire, to infect his listeners with his enthusiasm for it. I don't blame Rapley for being clearly uncomfortable on stage (he sits down, crosses his legs, and then apart from the occasional sip of water doesn't move for the next hour) but everyone around him who must have been able to see this wasn't a job suited to him, and let him do it anyway.
Rapley's speech is co-written by Duncan Macmilan, which just makes me wonder how dry it would have been if he hadn't had a professional playwright's help. Because the facts themselves are quite compelling, the show's not quite as dull as I was fearing, but again this is entirely down to the material, not in the least bit down to how it's been treated on stage. And while I couldn't have given you the statistics, I already knew and agreed with the broad sweep of the show's message, and I'd hazard a guess most of the rest of audience did too. 2071 ends with Rapley telling us how even staging this show, and the creatives and audience travelling to and from it, is creating a carbon footprint that will still be present in 2071. The Royal Court is quite often guilty of preaching to the converted; this time the converted also get berated for turning up to preached to in the first place.
2071 by Duncan Macmillan and Chris Rapley is booking until the 15th of November at the Royal Court's Jerwood Theatre Downstairs; and then on the 17th and 18th of December at Deutsches Schauspielhaus, Hamburg.
Running time: 1 hour 10 minutes straight through.