“The Climate Fables – The Trash Garden”
Greenside @ Nicolson Square – Fern Studio
14:00 – 55 minutes
Maggie Rose in Edinburgh
17 August 2023
In 2018 I reviewed a number of climate change plays at the Edinburgh Fringe, presented mainly by young companies and university groups, whose pioneering work was inspirational. At this year’s Fringe, where climate change plays were thinner on the ground, the work of the Torch Ensemble struck me as particularly relevant.
The company brought writer and director Padraig Bond’s two plays, “The Trash Garden” and “Debating Extinction” to Edinburgh. These were performed on alternate days by this company of recent graduates (Padraig Bond, Penelope Deen, Luis Feliciano, Kristen Hoffman, and Tibor Lazar) from Hunter College, a public university in New York City at Greenside’s Fern studio.
I consider “The Trash Garden” here. As audience members entered what a small room, we were confronted with plastic and waste, strewn everywhere. Bond has rewritten the biblical story of Adam and Eve, in a contemporary key, his Atlas and Evelyn having forsworn their predecessors’ garden in Paradise, for what we see onstage – piles of plastic and waste, where nature struggle to exist.
The notable physicality of the two lead performers, notwithstanding the small playing area, was skillfully complimented by a punchy, every-day dialogue. The couple have decided not to have children because of the state of the planet and complain about Atlas’s fraught relationship with his Father ‘on high’.
The piece was paced with good judgement; by blackouts neatly dividing the story into short scenes. The play’s irreverent, comedic take on the Biblical story, reminded me of poet Tony Harrison’s memorable, epic “Mysteries”, a reworking of the Wakefield cycle of Mystery plays at London’s National Theatre in 1977 (revived in the mid 1980s).
In conversation with Padraic Bond, he revealed that he has something similar in mind: an entire cycle of twelve climate change plays which he and the Torch Ensemble intend to develop over the coming years.