We Can All Agree to Pretend This Never Happened

As an ongoing celebration of –and opportunity for –new playwriting talent, A Play, a Pie and a Pint – originated at the Òran Mór in Glasgow's West End – has decided to mark its 350th production by celebrating its international reach. WeCan All Agree to Pretend This Never Happened first saw the light of day with contemporary theatre company Tiny Dynamite in Philadelphia, to which many Glasgow-originated shows have subsequently transferred. It’s a pleasing gesture that Òran Mór should produce one of theirs on this significant anniversary.

Despite this serious topic, however, the show is actually a comedy, with secrets, lies and misunderstandings spinning the story into a high-energy farce.

We Can All Agree to Pretend This Never Happened follows the story of a team of scientists sent to research the effects of climate change on the melting ice in Siberia. Some members of the team decide that the way to get the message out there is to fake the data they need. Despite this serious topic, however, the show is actually a comedy, with secrets, lies and misunderstandings spinning the story into a high-energy farce.

Patrick McGurn’s set is particularly worthy of note. With its pyrex barriers and minimal props mounted on plinths, it is as elegant as it is attractive, giving a strong sense of the claustrophobia of the lab.It works perfectly with the play, too, providing plenty of empty space with just enough detail to allow it to be clear to the audience where each scene is taking place while keeping things very fluid. This fluidity is essential to the structure of the play, which does without clear scene transitions; instead, it has has characters flow straight from one scene to the next in a way that allows the pace to keep up a break-neck speed.

All four performances are very strong, and really make the most of a script that has so much to give. Writer Emma Goidel’s use of character archetypes makes it easy to get a handle on the characters early onbut, as the play progresses, they blossom into characters that are sufficiently rounded to give meaning to the exciting, twisting plot. James Young is very endearing as the naive Lincoln, while Robert Jack's increasingly histrionic Andrew is the source of a lot of laughs. Sally Reid's bolshy Liz is a real force of nature, and Helen McAlpine is extremely entertaining as the neurotic Maya.

The play is a very successful comedybut, given Goidel's choice of topic (the scientists want to alert the public to the dangers of climate change), it is surprisingly light. It seems rather a shame that the show's dark heart wasn't brought more to the fore. Instead, a very serious issue is used merely as a plot device. Still it certainly makes for an unusual setting for what is, in general, a very successful, and highly entertainingplay.

Reviews by Grace Knight

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The Blurb

When two gungho researchers decide to fake results in their Siberian lab, a series of misunderstandings take over the lives of the whole research team. A hilarious play about scientists with a serious mission.

Emma Goidel is a Playwrights Realm Writing Fellow, a Core Playwright at InterAct Theatre Company, and a founding member of Orbiter 3. Her plays include Local Girls (development: Playwrights Realm, The Playwrights’ Center), A Knee That Can Bend (development: InterAct, New York Stage & Film/Powerhouse Theater), We Can All Agree To Pretend This Never Happened (commissioned by Tiny Dynamite, co-produced with InterAct) and Safe Space (2014 FringeArts Festival, co-written with Emily Acker and Douglas Williams). She is a member of the Foundry, a Philadelphia playwrights lab, and a graduate of Barnard College.