As the sirens of the climate emergency grow louder it often feels as if we are less galvanised into action as paralysed by fear. We cannot unknow that the polar bears are already starving. It’s all too late, isn’t it?
The good news in Land Without Dreams (Gate) is that the future turns out to be OK after all. A woman (Temi Wilkey) has arrived on the bare stage from the future to tell us so. She is wearing a yellow dress; her smile is warm and sunny. Of course, she could be lying. Maybe if she told us how things are really going to be, how different, we would get scared. But sometimes different can be good, can’t it? Often it is change we most fear, not what follows. Maybe we have to change, and make that change now.
Temi Wilkey. Photos by Cameron Slater.
Originally produced in Denmark, Tue Biering’s monologue is a cunning thing that uses theatre itself as a metaphor for the situation that the world finds itself as it lurches towards climate catastrophe. Could we perhaps dream our way out of it? With enough imagination can we work together to change the future, make a difference? Are we, the audience, the chosen ones or are we too hard-wired to crave stories about catastrophe.
Land Without Dreams is not the easiest of shows to watch. While performer Temi Wilkey, whose play The High Table will open at the Bush next year, is always engaging, and the form is self-consciously clever, it can sometimes feel less like a call to action and more like a really weird Ted-talk. Nonetheless, nothing prepares you for its final extraordinary few minutes when time shifts and changes, or for the tiny but important coda.
What I really like about Land Without Dreams is that it sees theatre as part of the world, not closed off from it. The lights do not go down. We are not sitting in the dark. There is no divide between stage and auditorium. We are all part of the show. We may watch Wilkey’s woman, but we are under scrutiny, because although she is from the future we are the ones who will make the future.
This brief but glimmering evening reminds us that when we are in a hole, surrounded by distorting mirrors. It requires a collective leap of the imagination to get us out. That woman in the yellow dress is relying on us.
Land Without Dreams runs at the Gate until Sat 7 Dec.