No Planet B

polar bear on Planet B flyer

NO PLANET B at Birmingham Repertory Theatre, January 2020

I thought the world might be suffering from eco-fatigue  – and not turn out on a cold January night to see BOLDtext save the planet with 4 short plays. I was wrong. The theatre was packed and buzzing.

Julia Wright’s Stepping Up opened the show. A well-meaning couple stage a sit-in at an office block. These eco-warriors are also the ultimate embarrassing parents – because their daughter works in that very building. She’s furious but the comedy soon darkens as right wing vigilantes turn up to drive the protesters out. As the thugs get closer, mum, dad and daughter re-unite and fight for their cause.

Enough is Enough by Nicola Jones was inspired by her partner’s hatred of plastic packaging. In the first part a shopper braves anger and ignorance at the checkout as she tries to return her plastic packaging to the supermarket where she bought it. In the second part, a young woman recounts the episode to her father. Despite her father’s climate change denial, the daughter subtly grows and starts to think for herself.

New Doggerland is set in a flooded future with the country largely underwater. Sayan Kent explores the tensions between a mother and her pregnant daughter – while a family friend descends into mythical and religious symbolism to cope with the apocalypse. Is it right to bring a new child into this troubled world?

Definitely not according to the protagonist of my play Suicide Kills. She’s a punk rock singer prepared to die to reduce the human population. Despite the grim title, there were some comedy scenes – including a visit to Planet B – and a song at the end!

The cast – Miriam Edwards, Tyrone Huggins and Rochi Rampal – sparkled throughout. They were superb as they switched between styles and characters   – wonderfully directed by Ali Belbin who must be an honorary member of BOLDtext by now.

The audience enjoyed it because the theatre remained packed for the after show discussion.

The four writers were joined on stage by Dr Katie Chong from Aston University – a specialist in ecological packaging and other clever stuff – and Kefentse Dennis from the Green Party

Kefentse entertained us by recounting what first drew him to environmental matters – it was a crush on his geography teacher! Meanwhile Dr Katie of Cleverness broke the hearts of half the audience by explaining why an all-day breakfast sandwich is an environmental disaster!

Apart from that everybody went home happy. Indeed, an audience member told me that it was the first time she had been to a night like ours and she preferred it to “normal theatre.” Now that is a top compliment!

Stephen Jackson

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