(Michael Billington's article appeared in the Guardian, 11/7.)
Other theatres investigate the past: the Royal Court is taking on the task of examining the future. After Ten Billion, in which Stephen Emmott explored the catastrophic consequences of over-population, we now have this monologue by Chris Rapley, co-written with dramatist Duncan Macmillan, which looks at the outcome of mankind’s dependence on fossil fuels that create greenhouse gases. If Rapley’s talk is less doom-laden than Emmott’s, it nonetheless sends you out of the theatre in a state of heightened concern.
Some will argue this is not really theatre. But the idea that theatre should be exclusively reserved for fiction has been knocked on the head by a surge of documentary dramas and verbatim plays. And Katie Mitchell, who directed both this show and Ten Billion, realises that the eye needs to be satisfied as well as the ear. Rapley sits in a chair and, without notes, talks to the audience with an astonishing calm and command of facts for 75 minutes. Meanwhile Chloe Lamford’s design presents us with swirling video images behind him that illustrate Rapley’s arguments and have a strange beauty of their own.