Last night saw the world premiere of Stephen Carleton’s newest play, The Turquoise Elephant. The political farce won the Griffin Award last year, and opened to a rapturous audience.
Set in a future not so far away, the play provides a bizarre, darkly funny look at the effects of climate change. Melbourne’s covered in sewerage, and our world leaders seem incapable of making decisions. Politics are at an extreme, and bloggers and vloggers are taking to technology as a call to action. There is an undeniable sense of impending doom nation-wide.
Carleton’s script, while mostly pessimistic, is outrageous and witty. His cacophony of wacky characters bring into sharp relief the absurdity of our world and the fundamental climate issues we’re facing.
Belinda Giblin as eccentric Olympia steals the show, even when she’s sleeping. Giblin’s presence is magnetic, and her attention to detail is superb. She finds meaning in the obscure and comedy in the mundane, and she never once rests on her actor’s laurels.
As housemaid Visi, Catherine Davies is exquisitely bizarre, finding many a physical quirk for her character. Visi is the moral backbone of the story, and Davies is compelling and laugh-out-loud funny throughout.
The entire cast is vibrant and dynamic. They work hard to keep the play afloat, especially when it becomes a little repetitive towards the end.
Visually, the production is fantastic. Sleek, creative set design by Brian Thompson paired with Emma Vine’s outlandish and decadent costumes provide a feast for the eyes. Lighting by Verity Hampson is the cherry on top.
The problems surrounding climate change have been around for a long time. So if this play was setting out to find a new perspective from which to tackle a long-standing issue, it doesn’t fully succeed. It does, however, hold up a darkly entertaining mirror to society.
Playing at the SBW Stables Theatre until 26 November.
Alana Kaye – Theatre Now