Review by Cynthia Ning
The Belvoir St Theatre has matched this year’s Vivid Sydney theme ‘Naturally’ with Scenes from the Climate Era. We came in with an open mind and were secretly hoping to see a real frog appear at some point in the show.
The show opened with an intimate table discussion between a young couple thinking about trying for a baby before quickly spiralling into the debate of paper bags vs plastic bags, causing a ripple of chuckles between the audience members. The stage presented only eight chairs and a table which were manipulated and shuffled as required with every quick scene change. The casual, muted costume colour palette and physical movements cut out all the fuss, allowing the dialogue to shine.
Charles Wu broke up some of the serious predictions by giving us funny tips on making a real change such as vandalising gas-guzzling 4-wheel drive SUV’s with the help of a single lentil or your trusty house keys. These slower moments kept the ambience floating at a lighter level.
Frequent time slips and fast scene changes kept the storytelling momentum, with characters spitting out interesting pieces of history and information. Harriet Gordon-Anderson was impressive with her range from an invested researcher to a cutthroat news editor when shocking news was presented. Brandon McClelland earnestly portrayed the supportive partner, agreeable scientist and grandfather who openly spoke of his thoughts about wind farms and the negative impact they would have on the local birds.
Each individual represented different aspects of a solution and problem which got me head scratching on finding a suitable eco-friendly solution without too much compromise. Abbie-Lee Lewis was calming and reassuring with her portrayal as a citizen and scientist pairing well with Ariadne Sgouros as the lively fellow colleague, bouncing back and forth with great banter and emotional investment into the projects looking to save the melting ice caps.
The light and sound team were on point with the sharp and demanding changes, cues to the natural background sound effects and spotlights. The Sand falling from the ceiling in pockets of the stage was surprising, unique and mesmerising. The cinematic effect made it seem that the ceiling was about to collapse above us and was a constant reminder of the Earth, alluding to the sands of time and the hopeful end of the climate era.
The story was woven beautifully between the cast members with superb delivery. Each detail was audible, clear and easy to digest. They were switched on and blended into each scenario and character like chameleons.
The show captured the sense of urgency, emphasising the inevitable end of a soon-to-be-extinct species of frog and the loneliness of it calling for a mate, never to have its sound echoed back. I hope this production can make its way to schools, universities and research summits to showcase the value of time and resources we have on this planet.
Right as I felt the existential crisis hit me at the end of the show, Nelly’s ‘Hot in Here’ started playing and it felt like a fitting send-off with the thoughts of global warming and positive action for future generations on my mind.