Review: Kill Climate Deniers, Pleasance Theatre

Kill Climate Deniers is an extraordinarily daring play that is a political rally for saving our environment. This fringey, intimate show follows a quirky plot about a terrorist attack at a Fleetwood Mac concert in Parliament Hall, Canberra. It contains cynical comedy, a superb all-Australian cast and classic 80s tunes. It pushes the boundaries as it explores the government’s responsibility for our forever declining planet and questions the reality we will live in 30 years time if we don’t act now. This is a radical play that has caused quite a stir.

David Finnigan has created a play within a play – part of it is plot, while part explains his creation process. Nathan Coenen plays Finnigan himself as a director throughout the evening, interjecting with humorous and factual comments, for example, comments he received from Australian political commentator, Andrew Bolt, or from climate deniers themselves. Finnigan’s writing is delightfully conscious and self aware. He describes his play as perhaps being an act of “tribal aggression between the lefts and rights” by claiming to kill those who don’t believe climate change exists. He embraces the fact he is trying to fight fire with fire. Not only that, he also grasps the other side of the argument and states that climate deniers are perfectly valid to not want more state regulation. His honesty at addressing this is refreshing and he states that he wishes climate deniers weren’t around, merely because they are currently fighting harder than environmentalists. Finnigan’s writing is politically savvy and Coenen’s portrayal of him exudes passion and confidence, he is truly captivating.

The plot is based around the idea that the government’s next scheme to help climate change is to spray sulphur dioxide 50km above the earth to create a blanket to block out the sun, and therefore any further heating of the earth (a real idea), a comically absurd notion that stops us “suffering the tyranny of sunlight”. From this, the liberal lefties decide to start a terrorist attack, in which 17,000 people are hostage unless the government decide to act seriously on climate change. It’s a mixture of deeply intriguing facts, political discourse and challenging ideas. All of this is coupled with a deeply silly and obscure dark humour that adds a vivid light to the play, making it enchantingly witty.

The heavily female Australian cast are superb in the small setting of the Pleasance Theatre where every mistake is seen. Fortunately the production is faultless. Felicity Ward is naturally funny and delivers most lines with wit and cynicism. Her tired but gutsy portrayal of the Australian environment minister is spot on. Her opposite Kelly Paterniti who plays a young advertisement advisor is energetic and silly. The dynamic they create together is boisterous and they have the audience chuckling throughout the evening.

Bec Hill and Hannah Ellis Ryan are correspondingly engaging on stage and never fault in their portrayal of radical left wing environmentalists. I especially enjoy Hill’s ironic humour as she delivers a powerful modern age eco-terrorist. All five members of the cast are wholeheartedly invested throughout the play and their energy is exciting to watch.  

Overall, I wish this show had a bigger production value, as its fringe-like setting is brilliant, but the concept of the play is so much bigger as it provocatively pushes the boundaries. If it kept the same actors and script, but went onto a bigger stage and gained a wider audience, I think this show would cause a volcanic stir in our society. A ludicrous evening of politics and wit.

Kill Climate Deniers is playing The Pleasance Theatre  until 28th June. For more information and tickets, see the Pleasance Theatre website.