Theatre review: Kill Climate Deniers

Kinetik Collective’s debut production is an unforgettable iteration of a controversial Australian play, made their own through multi-disciplinary collaboration at the intersection of technology and performance.

Sep 12, 2022, updated Sep 12, 2022
The cast of Kill Climate Deniers. Image: Jamois/FirstBatch

The cast of Kill Climate Deniers. Image: Jamois/FirstBatch

Kill Climate Deniers is difficult to categorise: Kinetik Collective describe it as “part action-movie spoof, part political satire, part rave party wrapped up in a piece of documentary theatre”.

All of this is correct, and it’s a whole lot more.   

The plot of Kill Climate Deniers is made up of two elements. The first is a fictional storyline, that sees eco-terrorists storm Parliament House during a concert, taking the entire government hostage, and threatening to execute everyone unless Australia ends global warming, immediately.

The second element, scattered between scenes of the raid, is an account of the tumult that surrounded Kill Climate Deniers after its conception.

For context, in 2014 Australian playwright David Finnigan was commissioned to develop a play about climate change and Australian politics, which he named Kill Climate Deniers. The play was met with a swift backlash, particularly in response to the title, which saw its original development shut down.

This response has now become part of this production, and Finnigan has written himself into the work to explain how the world received his original piece. The character of Finnigan is played by Eddie Morrison, who offers a sensitive and intelligent portrayal, embodying the complexity of the writing itself.

In a play about politics and climate change, the environment minister is, naturally, a prominent figure. Anna Steen, who plays the fictional minister Gwen Malkin, hilariously engages with the satirical elements of her political character, while simultaneously playing the role with humanity. This leaves her likeable on both sides of the climate debate.

The multi-media design, by Dave Court, adds a fascinating visual layer of satirical expression. The greenscreens are purposefully ‘low-fi’ and goofy, and there are Snapchat filters to depict conservative critic Andrew Bolt and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones – these are as funny as they are unsettling. The design is stunningly complemented with an original soundtrack, composed and performed live by Mat Morison.

The set resembles a rockstar’s performance space, with a protruding stage that allows performers to be in amongst the crowd. This choice, by designer and Kinetik co-founder Bianka Kennedy, enables the actors to use the audience in the hall as the hostages in Parliament House, resulting in a passive participatory experience for the audience.

Director and Kinetik co-founder Clara Solly-Slade, along with the cast comprising Kate Cheel, Katherine Sortini, Ren Williams, Morrison and Steen, do a remarkable job of highlighting extremism on either side of the narrative: that of the eco-terrorists as well as the climate change deniers. It reveals the standstill at which we find ourselves; conversations about climate change are louder and more frequent than ever, but no one is getting anywhere.

Kill Climate Deniers remains more poignant than ever. Since its creation, there have been countless groups, from both sides of politics, rising much like the eco-terrorists in Finnigan’s play. The hostage plotline immediately brings to mind the January 6 storming of the US Capitol.

Beneath the satire and the comedy, Kill Climate Deniers is an urgent and compelling cry for cooperation, communication and action, so we can avoid a world where we have to block out the sun, and where we can’t see the stars.

Kill Climate Deniers is at Slingsby’s Hall of Possibilities until September 17, 2022.

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