Leaving Planet Earth
The future is filled with promise, but its delivery throws up some awkward truths
This article is from 2013.
Grid Iron has previously demonstrated itself as a master of the site-specific play, with 27 awards in 18 years. Working on a massive scale for the Edinburgh International Festival, their latest show Leaving Planet Earth is a dystopian science fiction that raises the question of whether, in an era of disposability, it becomes possible to dispose of an entire planet.
Unfortunately, Grid Iron fails to transform the venue,Ratho Climbing Centre, into a convincing new world. The uneven match between the gimmick – the audience are part of a final migration into space – and the fragmented scenes of personal and political anxiety on the new earth overwhelms the sensitive writing and deft characterisation from playwrights Lewis Hetherington and Catrin Evans. While old Earth is pictured as in the final stages of collapse, the dystopia of New Earth is never convincingly evoked as an alternative, its description of its relationship to the past is not consistent and the new society is ill-described.
Most disappointingly, the various strands of the plot – the leader’s anxiety about her recalcitrant sister, the decision to destroy old Earth – are not convincingly weaved into the final set-piece: a light show which would have been impressive in the Bongo Club but falls short against the grandeur of Ratho. Contained within this three hour presentation is a strong short, intimate play about the hidden dangers within the chase for happiness, but here it fails to find a consistent tone or match the scale of its ambitions.
Edinburgh International Conference Centre, 473 2000, until 24 Aug, 8pm, sold out.