Solarplexus: An Alternative Energy Play (4 stars)

Solarplexus: An Alternative Energy Play

credit: Michael Galligan

Timely sci-fi drama about activism and the environment

It's the end of the world as we know it, or it might as well be if the world doesn't wake up to what's happening to the environment. That's a simple enough sentiment, but there are more complex issues surrounding real sustainability than just sorting out your recycling. NYC's Project Mercury have fashioned a timely play examining the clash between the individual and corporate structures, free of hand-wringing and looking to the future with considerable wit and guile.

In the all-too-near future, solar fires are ravaging the earth, and Ellen (Melissa Mahoney) and her brother Frank (Sam Metzger) are in conflict with their father (Michael Galligan). Seen as something of an eccentric crackpot, Frank Sr.'s plan to save the world involves a bicycle/hybrid invention which could help provide an alternative source of power. Ellen is an activist and an idealist, unlike her brother, but while she's an outspoken critic of the sinister Syzygy corporation that may just have caused the problem in the first place, being part of any solution requires her to rise above family quarrels.

Solarplexus is written by Galligan, directed by Jaye Hunt, and is notable for offering a thoughtful consideration of how activism stands or falls. A big help towards this end comes from the vigorous performance of Justin Picado as the CEO of Syzygy, whose confrontations with Ellen marks the play's climax. There's an element of David Mamet's The Water Engine in the show's conception, dealing with how any such potential boon might impact on those proposing it, but the sci-fi zeal shown here is very much it's own thing. Melissa Mahoney is the key; she artfully gives the show a sympathetic heart, and grounds the more high-brow concepts in a empathetic character conflict.

Despite the plethora of shows on offer, serious, original drama is never plentiful at the Fringe; Solarplexus is nimble of thought and pretty smart to boot; enjoy it before the apocalypse gets you first.

ZOO Charteris, until 27 Aug (not 13, 20), 7.35pm, £10–£12 (£8–£10).

Solarplexus: An Alternative Energy Play

  • 4 stars

Project Mercury Enough fantasies of the apocalypse, it's already here. Doom impending, Ellen and her brother seek refuge on their father's sustainable, eco-friendly commune. His plan to save the world? A gender-fluid, pedal-powered bicycle named Mercury Daniels. But you'd better hope the family can set aside their…

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