Set mainly in the capital, it dashes from a prescient past to an oddly promising future.
Using that much-visited framework of three sisters and a disappointing father, its siblings are variously a Lib-Dem minister in a coalition government, a pregnant teacher and a student with what we now call “issues.”
Doug Cockle’s multi-faceted production, played on the wide stage of the Lighthouse Theatre and the auditorium, brings back and front projections on sliding screens as well as impressive lighting and sound effects to this massive work.
Judging by the first-night audience, the show has appealed more to the friends of the 16-strong cast than to a wider public, and that’s just what Headlong discovered on its tour. That really is a shame, because Bartlett’s play has a great deal to say to a contemporary audience battling with decisions and conflicting expert reports.
Its basis is climate change and the need for a prophetic figure whose charisma is such that he or she can sway a world of hearers. Fanciful, fantastic and often veering from uncomfortable truth to magic realism, the play is thought-provoking and very scary.
Like all experimental works, it is a curate’s egg, and demands a very high and consistent standard of performance.
There are moments when audibility is an issue, but overall the student actors, designers, stage managers costume makers, film makers and others come together to create a stunning production of this demanding play.
Outstanding among the young cast are Talulah Pollenne in the dual role of the peculiar teenager Peter and Emily.
Poor Tom Hamblin has to cope with one of those much-too-small suits that are all the uber-expensive rage at the moment, and Harry Fowler’s resplendent head of greyed-up hair is a bit startling.
Jess Steed does a good job with the political burlesque strip, and Shaquille John is the dependable and very recognisable Tom.
To Treasure Makinde’s Mrs Andrews comes the line that skewers the huge scientific arguments with a casual insight into what it all means to the everyday life.
It’s a fascinating play, cleverly translated to the stage by this talented and versatile young cast, on until Saturday 7th February at the Lighthouse.