Uncategorized Global warming on stage

Global warming on stage

Ellis Pearson claims a mindblowing 35 previous appearances at the Festival, and this year the physical theatre veteran applies his visual comedy to the subject of global warming in the show, Blackout.

Although this production, subtitled the Adventures of Jock and Donut, appears under the “comedy” section of the Fringe programme, it is really more of a children’s show. The theme of climate change may be considered an adult one, but the story and styling of the piece will appeal more to youngsters than adults.

What is noteworthy about the show, though, is how Pearson harnesses the power of the imagination to tell his adventure with minimal props and no special effects. In fact, the FX side of the show consists mainly of the actor using a leaf blower to simulate a tornado, blasting audience members’ hair into disarray; as well as blowing into a tub of water, splattering those in the front row while conjuring a storm.

So be warned: don’t sit near the front, unless you’re hell bent on becoming a witting or unwitting participant in the show.

Opening to the strains of the Beatles’ Because (“Because the world is round, it turns me on”), Pearson kicks off with a solemn warning: “Time is running out for the planet.” However, that’s where the serious part of the show ends and the madcap high-jinks begin.

On stage
The stage is adorned only by a round blue carpet, symbolising the pale blue dot that is Earth, a stepladder, a few masks and other sundry props. From there, unfolds an adventure yarn about a German (or could he be Swiss?) climatologist who, bitter that his warnings about climate change have been ignored, starts plotting to accelerate global warming and destroy the planet.

One day, the sun disappears and the Earth is plunged into darkness. Could the apocalypse be far away? Enter our heroes, ballroom dance teacher Jock and stammering scientist Donut, to save the world from disaster. Off they head to a volcanic island in the Arctic Sea to track down the mad professor and subvert his dastardly plans.

Naturally, along the way, they run into various obstacles and have several adventures. Here, members of the audience are roped in to guide toy cars, steer toy aeroplanes, wear red wigs, and so on.

This audience interaction heightens the enjoyment, as Pearson deftly switches masks and employs his physicality to help tell the story.

It’s not highbrow fare, but this simple, swashbuckling yarn of good versus evil does serve to raise children’s awareness of green issues in a fun and accessible way. A daft odyssey that sheds light on a dark topic, Blackout is by no means fancy fare with bells and whistles, but will certainly entertain the kiddies for an hour.

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