Climate change is a topic that, as a rule, theatre neatly sidesteps. I’ve had a few shows pitched to me this year about the bees who are perhaps a little easier to contain in the perky parameters of a Fringe show. But Let’s Inherit The Earth is the first Fringe show I’ve seen taking on the the issue at a macro level in all its plastic-choked thermometer-shattering glory. And as we stagger through ever hotter summers, this production couldn’t be more timely.
Edinburgh playwright Morna Pearson has created a punk rock musical with help from composer Jonny Hardie. Anarchic and verging on apocalyptic in feel, Dogstar’s collaboration with Swedish theatre company, Profilteatern has been used to great effect. The script explores the divide between the rich and the people with less, between a nation that’s been trying for decades to mitigate the worst side-effects of climate change and one that’s historically been doing less and less, between the ‘preppers’ determined to surf the wave of chaos versus the ostriches who would rather stumble on regardless. Delivery of the dialogue in both Swedish (with surtitles) and English accentuates the divide. And the tension arising from mutual incomprehension is adroitly observed.
This is a boisterous romp of a production. A series of fast-paced, wryly funny songs rail at the stupidity of denial. Ben Harrison‘s vigorous, tightly choreographed direction keeps the action scooting along. Matthew Zajac and Sarah McCardie wonderfully, willfully bury their heads in the sand. Jan Karlsson and Tobias Morin skip effortlessly between being earnest, slightly sanctimonious ‘preppers’ and smug onlookers – who become steadily less smug as the seaweed creeps onwards. Lina Hognert is particularly compelling as the voice of doom Grandmother: “When we said we wanted what’s best for the children,” she intones, “We meant our children, not all children.”
A complicated production with numerous scene changes, nicely observed costumes by Ulla Karlsson and atmospheric video from Martin Ogland, this show also has the best opening tableau you’ll see this Fringe. There were a few infinitesimal fumbles for words but as the production’s second performance, these will be ironed out. Following the Fringe, the show will be touring around Scotland. Whilst the brash and boisterous style may not be to everyone’s taste, it’s a punchy powerful reminder that we could be doing a whole lot more to ensure that our children do inherit the earth.