The Edge, Transport at Salisbury

revuTheEdgeOUR political masters and those who are obsessed with the European question think the in-out vote on EU membership is the most important issue facing us.

For others, the threat posed by climate change is the greatest challenge facing humanity, however much climate change deniers want to ignore it.

It is a threat to the peoples, the wildlife and the ecology of the Arctic, Antarctic and sub-polar regions – where rising temperatures are already having a significant impact and the permafrost is beginning to thaw.

It is a threat to the people who live on countless low-lying islands across the Pacific, where only a few inches of rising water will destroy homes and livelihoods.

It is a threat to the millions who live at sea level, already suffering as the salt water kills forests and fish, swamps paddy fields and drives people from their villages.

It is also an accelerating threat to coastal communities in this country – to towns and villages where coastal erosion has been pulling cliffs, sea defences and houses into the sea for centuries.

Rising sea levels forcing people from their homes provide the framework for a powerful multi-media play, The Edge, created by Transport Theatre, devised by the company’s artistic director Douglas Rintoul and on tour, at Salisbury Playhouse’s Salberg Studio until 14th November.

Performed by two actors, Tim Lewis and Balvinder Sopal, and set in 2015 and 2035, it is the story of a young woman in Folkestone and a young man in the Sundarban wetlands near Kolkata in north eastern India.

In 2015, the girl is a keen swimmer, called a “mermaid” by her mother. The boy wants to follow his father as a fisherman.

Twenty years later, Folkestone’s sea front homes have been abandoned to the encroaching waves and the islands south of Kolkata have been swept away. The young woman, training to swim the Channel, rescues an exhausted illegal immigrant from the sea and cares for him in the abandoned town library until he is strong enough to try to travel to London to find his uncle.

In 80 minutes, with poetic dialogue, choreographed movement, and an atmospheric score by Raymond Yiu, The Edge depicts two people with no shared language or culture, brought together by the rising sea levels and the bureaucratic, inhumane response of public authorities to climate-change migrants.

Douglas Rintoul says this profoundly moving play is about our future but most of the events explored are based on things that have already taken place. It is also a love story about two people trying to connect and to make sense of incomprehensible and irresistible forces.


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