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GAIA GLOBAL CIRCUS – Bloomsbury Theatre, London.

Gaia Global CircusI had no idea what to expect walking into Gaia Global Circus, other than a general understanding that it was a play about the vagaries of climate change – and sadly, I didn’t come out any better informed. It is a series of vignettes on various aspects of climate change, the human reaction to it mixed in with debates and questions posed about the issues faced, with no solutions found or even suggested. This seems odd considering that the production team spent four years researching alongside scientists, anthropologists and philosophers in order to create this piece.

Co-conceptor Bruno Latour suggested in the post-show question and answer session that it is not Theatre’s job to find solutions, but I’m not entirely sure I agree – shouldn’t theatre ask the questions, pose an answer and thus spark the debate? As an academic debate is surely the reason that this piece has been created, arguably the only reason, as there appeared to be very little emphasis on a cohesive narrative played out amongst the four characters none of whom were particularly inspiring, apart from the scene where a female actor performed an improvised sketch as Gaia the Greek goddess, in the form of a teenager about to leave home who was analysing the lyrics of an unnamed Beatles song played so quietly that you couldn’t hear it to identify. This was an interesting scene and a great performance – alas the performers names are just listed in the programme (Claire Astruc, Luigi Cerri, Jade Collinet and Matthieu Protin) and they were not introduced in the Q&A so I am unable to single anyone out. As an ensemble they worked well together, particularly during the scene where the politician’s speech was being translated, which had some great moments of comic timing, although the general movement around the stage was either really slick and choreographed, or frenetic running and on/off the stage, which broke any atmosphere that had been built. The performers also learnt the entire piece in English just for this performance, so kudos for that.

The set, or rather prop, is one of the best features in this performance. Imagine if you will a giant inflated sheet with three lines of alternating large round black and white balloons. This we are told represents the Earth, as the Earth cannot be brought inside. Interestingly, Co-conceptor Frédérique Aït-Touati described this canopy as a puppet and the cast worked with a puppeteer to get a feel for moving such a large object around the space. They intermittently peg it down or let it float up throughout the piece, even bringing the whole thing over the audience in the stalls at the end which from my vantage point in the circle was quite a sight to be seen. Another bizarre highlight was the use of an overhead projector, which as an item from our technological past conforms to the low-tech vibe of this show, a deliberate choice due to the environmental content.

This show is more of a physicalised lecture on climate change rather than a captivating performance. Although this provides a feast of ideas for the academic anthropologists and environmentalists, leaves the rest of us somewhat uninspired. However it has got me thinking about climate change and what is being done about it, so in essence it has achieved its aim.

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Reviewed 14/02/2015

By Emily Jones

14th February 2015
Bloomsbury Theatre, London, WC1H 0AH.

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