Extinct is as much an engrossingly strong play as it is a call for action. April De Angelis’s factual, anecdotal and imaginative piece forces us to imagine the world at the hands of climate change. Which alarmingly isn’t that far away if we keep living how we are living. Paired with Kiran Landa’s bold performance, this play screams a message that needs to be heard. This piece pushes our minds to the extremities of the consequences we are yet to fully experience, throwing fiercely clever visuals from left right and centre as a plea for us to listen!
Climate Change is a massive topic to tackle, especially when addressing the wider public, but De Angelis expertly blends the incredibly harsh statistics, with emotional real-life trauma. It’s possibly the most intensely gripping Ted Talk one may ever see. The play begins with Landa asking us to imagine the world in 2030, when the temperature is fourty degrees, and we are having to live on rationed food and water. Scenes like this are dotted in between factual interludes that only induce more fear into these imagined images. All we have are Landa’s words to paint the picture, but she delivers them so vividly, that with each syllable you become pushed back in your seat. Re-thinking how this dramatic story can easily translate into our lives and may not be so farfetched from the truth of what’s to come.
The set appears practically minimal. With books, plants, a candle, but most noticeably a great tilting projection screen that looms over Landa throughout. This screen becomes a second body, a second character, as we watch reels of swift graphics tell us the numbers we have left. Each animation from statistic to statistic is impressively cinematic, however the overpowering pain in every falling number holds a threatening importance. The screen also acts as a source of light for the piece, as the screen turns red, Landa is then bathed in the same demonic shade. This all-consuming power of both backdrop and lighting choices is used with great expertise and originality from Kirsty Housley. With the added use of green screen, for Landa appear underwater, or live recorded projection to watch Landa’s feet sink into wet soil, the execution of these technical elements are flawless.
On top of this, De Angelis’s personal anecdote of the devasting situation in Bangladesh hits a nerve with all those with family connections. The elements of safety, security and a place to call home are things we sometimes take for granted, however, as Landa forces us to imagine her grandmother’s childhood homeland drowned by extreme weather conditions, we cannot help but feel a lump in our throats. A projection of her acting as her cousin, recounting the story of her family’s death and daughters unknowing innocence, reminds us of the necessary change needed to aid these developing countries and a great admiration for the talents that Landa displays.
De Angelis’s heart-wrenching piece is a true eye-opener of what we are doing to the world, and how much time we have to restore planet earth. The alarm bells ring from start to finish, and even after you leave the theatre you are guaranteed to feel a great sense of shame but also determination to do your own part in trying to save the world. You feel more knowledgeable; positively shocked by Landa’s daring performance, as well as the catalogue of statistics that we all tend to forget.
Extinct is playing at Theatre Royal Stratford East until the 17 July 2021. For more information and tickets, see Stratford East’s Website.