From The Economist: 21 February 2011 – THE frisson of Armageddon is again running through the stalls: London is awash with plays about climate change. At the National Theatre, “Greenland” gives audiences a stern warning against inaction on global warming. Meanwhile, at the Royal Court, “The Heretic” sketches the countervailing dangers of groupthink for an academic who disagrees with climate-change orthodoxy. “Earthquakes in London”, which prophesies climate-doom in the city, was a hit at the National last year; more environmental dramas are coming to smaller theatres soon.
Art has tackled man-made threats to the planet since the Old Testament. During the cold war, theatre learned to love the bomb and its moral complexities, in plays such as Sir Tom Stoppard’s “Hapgood” and Michael Frayn’s “Copenhagen”. Climate change has already established itself as a dystopic heir to nuclear war in cinema, in films such as “The Day After Tomorrow”. Dramatists seem to have been inhibited by the subject’s technical density. But now it has reached the London stage.
Some critics have complained that “Greenland” is hysterically alarmist. Matt Charman, one of its writers, argues that “Not engaging with the subject would be the real failure for a national theatre.” Throughout the evening, theatre-goers are lashed with rain made of paper (recycled), while characters discuss climate-change “denial” and rebuke the audience for its un-green habits. Read more