Remarkably, if you wander into The Traverse at 9am, you will find an audience willing to watch a rehearsed reading of a brand-new play and not a spare seat in the house.
I implore you to head over to the Traverse for a Breakfast Play
It was not just the breakfast rolls and hot drinks that brought the crowds; we were there to watch theatre in its purest form before the set and costumes take hold or an ambitious director takes an overt lead. During the Breakfast Plays, we watch the words play out on stage with nothing but actors instinct and simple direction to guide them.
The morning I went, we were given a glimpse of new work from Kolbrún Björt Sigfúsdóttir. The play, Kit Kat, was a joy from start to finish, turning unexpected corners and putting the most urgent question of our time centre stage.
Anne and Rosa are two young friends, played by Titana Muthui and Ashleigh More. Muthui and More are a stela double act as the primary school age pair, perfectly pitching their characters, who might be children, but they are never childish.
Sigfúsdóttir initially gives the audience a comedy, with Anne and Rose frantically trying to save an injured mystery animal in their treehouse. The audience laughs along. We are on the side of Mum, played by Rebecca Elise, who is concerned about the animal but does not regard the thing with any real importance.
Once the reading is in full swing, we realise that the animal is a lost cause, but Rosa and Anne’s eyes are forever opened to the natural world around them. They discover the harm that humankind has inflicted on the planet and they campaign for change. First, they are concerned with their Mums, their school and their friends, but soon they demand government action; they want to be listened to and will seemlingly go to all ends to be heard.
Just as Greta Thunberg strikes every Friday in climate protest, Anne and Rosa strike too, but they will abandon something far more dangerous than school. In Kit Kat, Sigfúsdóttir cleverly asks what lengths our children will have to go to before society will listen to them and act to halt the climate emergency.
Despite an impressive finall direct address from More that demands that we sit up and fight for climate justice, Sigfúsdóttir’s writing never preaches. Using children to tell a story of climate protest means the play does not take itself too seriously, but a sense of quiet and impending doom soon impedes. What begins light-hearted soon turns into an exploration of the dept our children will inherit and the deadly consequences of decades of damaging our environment.
Sigfúsdóttir’s play was superb and I look forward to seeing its next stage of development. If you can bear the early alarm, I implore you to head over to the Traverse for a Breakfast Play. The breakfast on offer was also brilliant – I recommend the veggie haggis filling – although for a play about the climate emergency, scrap the disposable coffee cups.