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 The Theatreguide.London Review

In March 2020 the covid-19 epidemic forced the closure of all British theatres. Some companies adapted by putting archive recordings of past productions online, others by streaming new shows. Until things return to normal we review the experience of watching live theatre onscreen.


Afloat
Sunday's Child and Edinburgh Fringe  August 2021

The Irish company Sunday's Child present this new play by Eva O'Connor and Hildegard Ryan live at the 2021 Edinburgh Fringe, with a video version streamed online for those who can't be there.

The one-hour drama attempts a new approach to the subject of global warming. But despite a polished production and attractive performances, it ends up undercutting itself disappointingly.

In a near future Dublin is underwater and two young women (Eva O'Connor and Annette O'Shea) take refuge in an upper floor of an abandoned office building, surviving on the office's supply of snacks.

They spend their time bickering and making up, trying to decide what, if anything, to do, and remembering in flashbacks some of the small joys and troubles of their previous ordinary lives.

These scenes are interrupted a couple of times by what appears to be a lecture by an environmental scientist (Michael-David McKernan) laying out all the ominous facts and predictions about global warning.

His sequences, which stop the play dead and take us away from the characters we want to care about, seem clumsily imposed on the play until an abrupt plot twist connects them.

I won't give away the surprise, except to say it manages to be both cynical and banal, negating almost everything we've seen and become emotionally involved with up to that point.

And so a play that at worst seemed to be taking its time getting to what it wanted to say, winds up saying something uninteresting in a way that leaves us unfulfilled.

(Oh, hell. Don't read this paragraph if you don't want a spoiler. The whole thing turns out to have been a virtual reality experiment done by the lecturer for a bunch of corporate polluters, to reassure them how easily the general public can be distracted from realising who the real villains of global warming are. See what I mean?)

Gerald Berkowitz



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Review of  Afloat - Sunday's Child 2021