Katrine Turner‘s new show is an awesome idea. A glorious parody of the abundance of inane helplines that proliferate in the service industry, An Alternative Helpline For The End Of The World allows you to seek personalised advice for how you can best cope with the world’s end. You book your consultation, loiter in Summerhall‘s lobby and at the allotted time, you’ll receive a phone call. You can watch Turner’s live performance on the phone line in the one-time ticket office. Like a piece of performance art, she’s sat in there, twee uniform and headset and obliging enough to pose for this photographer. But one of the lovely things about this performance is you could enjoy it at home. You’d miss the view from the front row seat but the fun in this piece is in the words.

The call kicks off with Turner clarifying that you are who you’re meant to be. In a practical rather than a metaphysical way. She advises you that your personal details won’t be stored and your call won’t be recorded for training purposes. Then she asks what you’re most worried about in the world today. It would spoil the surprise to walk you through the entire 15 minute call but it’s a wry reflection of our obsession with easy answers (ideally, multiple choice), our thirst for glib (superficial) responses and a delicately delivered howl of panic about the inadequacy of our response.

This reviewer experiences a heightened concern about climate change. This may not be the same for all callers so it would be fascinating to hear alternative versions of the script. Based on your answers, the call winds up with a ‘computer generated’ piece of pertinent advice. Mine nodded to nineteenth-century industrialisation, suggested we weren’t behaving much more positively now and yearned for a ray of hope amidst the gloom, eerily echoing my own opinion so maybe the algorithms were right.

As an experience, this will give you loads of food for thought. As a piece of theatre, it’s smart and sharply pertinent but tricky to feel emotionally invested in multiple choice questions. But maybe that’s Turner’s point. If we all spent a bit less time waiting for someone else to solve it and got on and tried to make a difference ourselves, we might find ourselves in a marginally less apocalyptic place.

‘An Alternative Helpline For the End of the World’ runs until Sun 27 Aug 2023 at Summerhall Lobby at various times