Planet Earth III

David Attenborough meets clowning in this low-budget romp through the Earth’s depleted natural world. Planet Earth III is the BBC’s next nature documentary series, and even a complete lack of animals in this dystopic 2017 can’t stop them. Cue Luke Rollason, interning with the BBC’s sound and visual effects department, who must bring these creatures to life.

Rollason’s enthusiasm is infectious and the result is a hilariously fun hour of clowning around with the best of nature’s weirdos

Relying on only desk stationery and an overhead projector, Rollason creates charming clowning with a minimalist feel. That’s not to say the show takes itself too seriously: a simple hand movement becomes a romantic tragedy of Looney Tunes proportions. Rollason transitions smoothly between sequences and animals with the help of narration from “Attenborough”. It’s a decent impersonation peppered with jokes, yet the focus is always on Rollason. He’s a keen and talented performer whose constant bafflement with the task given to him establishes an endearing persona. Audience interaction is irreverent and silly, without bordering on awkwardness.

Pacing seems to be a slight issue, with Rollason half-jokingly referencing the time a few times throughout the show. An initial sequence with an angler fish feels a little overlong, but later the show falls into an even stride so it’s only a minor teething issue. A wide variety of animals are on display, a testament to Rollason’s physicality as he becomes sloths, hummingbirds and antelopes with the slightest of movements.

The show isn’t without a sting in the tail, and we are forced to face our own hand in the destruction of nature. It’s not pretty, and it’s hard not to feel a tugging at the heartstring as Rollason reveals the fate of our now-depleted natural world. The tone turns dark but retains its levity, instead leaving the audience on a light note with some impromptu mime. Rollason’s enthusiasm is infectious and the result is a hilariously fun hour of clowning around with the best of nature’s weirdos.

Reviews by Louise Jones

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The Blurb

‘Planet Earth III’ is a low-budget, one-man nature documentary set in a future where our worst predictions came true. Following ecological collapse, thousands of endangered species are extinct, including the BBC. But one plucky (and unpaid) intern isn’t giving up the fight – and right on programming schedule, he’s going to give us a third series. Armed with obsolete office supplies and a surreal imagination, the angler fish, the hummingbird, the chameleon and more are brought back to life by the “impressive, in a very bizarre way” (LondonTheatre1) clown Luke Rollason.