Are we not drawn onward to new erA – Ontroerend Goed

What’s done is done. We cannot go back. We must go forwards. How? This theatrical palindrome from Belgian company Ontroerend Goed is an intelligent and vividly realised exploration of the climate crisis. Revolving around the ‘point zero,’ in which the planet is damaged to such an extent that it becomes uninhabitable, this production asks big questions surrounding responsibility and recovery for a world in the midst of a climate emergency.

An intelligent and vividly realised exploration of the climate crisis.

We begin with a tree. Then come a manmade flood of plastic bags, unpacked without question or concern. By the crisis point, a golden statue erected in honour of humanity is drowning in its own pollution. This much is clear, and yet so much goes unexplained. ‘Why can't I understand what they say?’ I want to ask. And why on earth is everyone walking backwards? All becomes clear through the company’s ingenious use of video and projection, which only allows us to make sense of this world and how it came to be.

The piece is clearly the product of huge commitment and dedication from cast and crew alike, with the precise attention of the acting ensemble absolutely essential for the execution of such a theatrical feat. Overwhelming spectacles such as plastic bags falling from the sky are not only striking but intrinsic to the narrative’s development, presenting a post-apocalyptic world alarmingly rooted in the present day. Such remarkable visions are enhanced by the detailed work of the actors, who are utterly present and attentive to each other and the shifting landscape of the play.

Perhaps it is my personal need for optimism, but this doesn’t seem a story without hope. Clever structural choices suggest that in every act of violence and aggression there is equally potential for healing. The conclusion of this epic production is both intelligent and incredibly moving, and there is a strange atmosphere as we leave the Main House at Zoo; it is clear that this experience will stay with us all long beyond the end of the performance. Ontroerend Goed combine technical excellence and exceptional innovation to produce a profound meditation on an approaching climate catastrophe.

Reviews by Zoe Callow

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Since you’re here…

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Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Ontroerend Goed, Theatre Royal Plymouth, Vooruit, Richard Jordan Productions, BiB with ZOO. Like its title, this performance is a palindrome. You can see it forwards and backwards. Because some believe humanity is moving forward, while others believe the opposite. No matter who's right, our quest for progress has dramatically changed the world we live in. Are our actions irreversible or can we undo them? 'The most beautiful, most intelligent and committed performance Ontroerend Goed has ever made, on the boundary of visual art, theatre, poetry and politics' **** (Knack).

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