Extinct at Theatre Royal Stratford East
Climate change is unquestionably one of the urgent issues that needs to be tackled– ideally immediately. It is fitting, then, that increasingly more plays are being produced to raise awareness. April De Angelis’s Extinct is one of these, a passionate performance representing a raging call to address the problem at hand.
Kiran Landa stars as the narrator, who at times can be equated with the playwright herself, at others voices many of the people who have been directly affected by the consequences of global warming, such as food shortages, flooding, forest fires and more. For the most part, the play is a lecture that serves to list the many problems humans will face if nothing is done, but occasionally, anecdotes and visions of an apocalyptic world in 2030 are utilised, which provides a more tangible experience. Landa is fantastic in all of these roles, displaying evident passion for the material and therefore is very believable in her fury and multifaceted acting.
The production is directed by Kirsty Housley with a lot of love and care. A range of props and devices serve to create skilful theatrical tricks that engage the audience’s interest and emphasise various points including a camera recording the storyteller from above with an artificial background making it look as though she’s walking on ice, or a close-up of her walking in soil. These are very effective in creating a sense of urgency. That being said, some may perceive the play as a dogmatic approach to climate change, failing to capture the complexities that have hindered effective policy up to this point. It raises the question of whether this play is doing anything other than preaching to a choir who don’t need convincing and leaving out those who might be frightened away by the alarmism or aren’t in a situation where they can realistically engage with these environmental issues. That aside, Extinct is a passionate and engaging play, which certainly deserves to be heard.
Photo: The Other Richard
Extinct at Theatre Royal Stratford East is at Theatre Royal Stratford East from 30th June until 17th July 2021. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.