Review: On a Wimb’s ‘promising’ first play with a deep message
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Debbie Heath reviews On a Wimb’s production of Earth Hour in St Albans.
Maltings Arts Theatre audiences were challenged and entertained by environmental-themed theatre.
Distracted by so much political uncertainty and caught up with the business of our everyday lives, it can be very easy for the average person to lose focus of the bigger picture - how much time do we have left on this planet before our resources run out?
Driven by a passion to raise awareness of climate change, theatre company On a Wimb developed play Earth Hour as a means of provoking change.
It does so via the story of two production crew members of an environmental TV programme.
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The audience were hooked from the outset.
Jack Stanley's fast-paced, witty dialogue tripped off the tongues of his instantly sympathetic characters.
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Dom is late. Dom is not a late person. Dom understands that for some people being late is a thing and that's OK but he isn't one of those people. These recognisable sentiments warmed me to the core.
Dom wants to impress his experienced line manager, production coordinator Sasha, but as the play develops the power shifts and the tables are turned.
Earth Hour was directed by St Albans bred Stanley Walton. He clearly had a strong vision and executed it well through the management of his company.
Actors Tom Crowhurst and Gabriella Margulies performed with strength and sensitivity throughout. They were so at one with their characters' driving forces that it was obvious that the play was a collaborative effort.
It showed the depth of a whole company working together with a shared vision.
Writer Jack Stanley explains: "We were really keen to create a show around the climate crisis because it's a shared, urgent concern of ours... we all suggest ideas for every aspect of the show, giving it a really collaborative feel."
The play was cleverly set in the 'Earth Hour' studio, referring to the real audience as the studio audience with Brechtian cold lights sometimes on us. It helped to involve us even more; to remind us that climate change is our business.
I loved designer Beth Colley's central cluster of contrasting television screens, not only representing the editing suite but symbolising the relevance of the central message to every single person on the planet.
So what of the central message? Well, Dom believes that mankind needs to face hard facts before it is too late to save the planet.
Sasha sympathises but sees a benefit in underplaying the truth so as not to throw people into apathy; she has to keep the TV show appealing.
Dom and Sasha become more concerned with their squabbles and the programme than the issues it's dealing with.
In the first half these conflicting ideologies are wound up in the power struggle between Sasha and Dom.
Once this shifts and Dom is in charge of the show, there was a slight loss of momentum.
The central message - that preventing environmental disaster is up to us - became a little confused.
However, this was the point On a Wimb were making; there aren't any easy answers to tackling climate change.
Humankind is selfish, foolish and easily distracted. However, it is better to do take some action than nothing at all.
This was a really promising first production from On a Wimb.
A play with a deep message that still managed to make the audience laugh.
The play has certainly encouraged me to make changes to my behaviour. Well done!