This Changes Everything

The playwright, Joel Horwood, takes the basic premise that global warming is caused by capitalism and adds other tropes such as the abuse of power, the threat posed from outsiders and the desire to build a better society. This production was performed by twelve women from the BA (Hons) Acting course, supported by students from two of the Costume Design courses and the Make-Up for Media and Performance course.

Several disenchanted young women have formed The Community on a platform out at sea, to create a better way of living. They rail against the negative effects of Capitalism and inequality, as well as the failure to engage with the harmful impacts of climate change. The aim is to create a template for a new and better society, and when this is perfected, they plan to come out of hiding to share their utopian ideals.

The problem is that The Community exhibits disharmony from the outset – the founder, Hanna, convincingly played by Eleise Bailey, abruptly abandons the group, and a new leadership model is introduced. Equality is replaced with power struggles and the guiding principles are abandoned as the group focus on internal rather than external conflicts. This all sounds rather familiar, and there are definite echoes of Animal Farm and Lord of the Flies in the writing.

As ever with AUB, this was a very stylish production. The rusty industrial looking set emphasised the decay within society, while lighting and sound was used to good effect to create an ‘other worldly’ effect. I particularly liked the intermittent dripping water effect. A great deal of attention had been paid to the costume design which helped indicate the very basic, hand to mouth existence experienced by the women. There was also clever use of make up in the form of a blue handprint, which marked everyone out as members of the same tribe, as well as providing an opportunity for an initiation ceremony for two new arrivals.

The cast played the ensemble scenes very well. The opening of the play was particularly effective, with a scene reminiscent of the start of a sporting event – a team bonding opportunity. There were also some good individual performances from Hannah Burn as Klara and Stina Rojestal as the sweet but annoyingly cheerful Malin. I thought her scene with Maja when she was forced to accept a demotion was very poignant.

However, on a few occasions the dialogue was difficult to follow, either because it was delivered at breakneck speed in a very breathy voice, or the diction was not clear or just that more projection was needed. I missed most of the funny lines, but people around me were laughing, so perhaps it was just me.

The play provides opportunities for playing a range of emotions – anger, fear, admiration, anxiety, excitement, confusion and nostalgia amongst others, but I didn’t feel that these had been explored in enough depth. The actors were all word perfect, but at times the play ‘didn’t come off the page’, so there seemed to be something missing in the interpretation. For instance, I wanted Maya (Madina Orazbekova) to evolve into a scary power-hungry leader and for the arguments about food rationing to be more convincing.

However, this is a thought-provoking production which may leave you feeling cynical that capitalism is ubiquitous and no matter what you do it can percolate through, or hopeful that young people have the will to change the world for the better, whilst the writer seems to be posing the question, “Is it possible to change the world if you’ve isolated yourself from it?”