Review: World Problems at FortyFive Downstairs

By Yona Eagle


Emma Mary Hall appears on stage telling us to excuse her as she is angry due to the terrorist massacre that occurred in Christchurch. She is dressed in dungarees with a t-shirt underneath, her hair in a ponytail  - a child-adult.

The stage is strewn with irregular metal poles, some forming a flimsy barricade between us, the audience, and Emma herself. On one side of me is my friend and on the other there is a palm tree. Interspersed throughout the audience are potted plants. It is clear that this entire theatre will be her stage.

Emma begins her monologue, but it is actually a one sided dialogue being a stream of questions.These questions, addressed to the audience, give insight into her life as well as prompting the listener to consider their own. They reflect the past, present and future.

Emma has a background of studying political science. Between making theatre works, she focuses on social policy. Her work is described as experimental and through her spoken word the theatre performance, she aims to solve the problems of the planet one at a time.

In August last year Emma was the first artist to participate in Amsterdam’s Theatre Oostblok’s international artists in residence program where she developed ‘world problems.’

Emma makes art as she says she can be generous in it. She makes art for social changers in a non-didactic way so she can encourage people to affect social change This incidental behaviour, that she hopes will occur, is also fostered by her connecting to the audience through the myriad of questions she poses.

As the play goes on we watch Emma construct a metal ring. A ring in which we and the world are safe? The ring then goes on to become a trampoline. What is more domestic than a backyard trampoline? Is it also a ring to literally bounce ideas off?

Then this ring is a cycle - each night this ring is built again from scratch and when we have left the theatre it is slowly dismantled. Set designer Fleur Dean, tells us in the interactive post show workshop that she had little budget and the trampoline was sourced from Facebook marketplace. How fitting is that to climate & human change.

Trampolines the size we see would have been outside in someone’s garden and subject to the elements. It has survived despite that. But will we be so lucky.


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All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.

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