Having transferred from a successful run at the Edinburgh Festival, Visceral Theatre Company’s Crash and Burn now runs at the Etcetera Theatre in Camden. The background for the tale is the Glasgow climate Cop26 conference, and the action all takes place inside a jet. Immediately the irony of climate activists who take a plane to protest about climate change is made clear. On board we have conflicting passengers; the corporate oil magnet with his wayward daughter Jane, sitting side by side with the celebrity icon that is flaky beyond belief.
Written by playwright and actor Will Leckie, Crash and Burn is by turns an amusing take on the rich, the powerful and the misguided. It is also a serious exposure of corporate exploitation of our seas and energy resources, depicted in an enterprise driven by profit and the gross ego of CEO Joseph Johnson. He is played by Nick Gill with commanding bullish vigour, strutting a chiselled chin and wagging a finger while extolling the supposed virtues of de-regulation, cost-cutting, blackmail, exploitation and sinister sackings. The global celebrity on board, Amodius Vassano, who jumps on every passing bandwagon, is amusingly captured by the talented Leckie. Donned in his all-white meditative jumpsuit he oscillates from supporter to foe, not sure where his loyalties lie and – rather like his oil and gas nemesis – he is driven by ego and self-interest; not to mention social media attention.
Also on board is a rather suspicious flight attendant, Lewis McKenzie (Noah Miller), who appears to be the altruistic hard nut. He causes great alarm at 30,000 feet as he promises them all not only a bumpy ride but a landing that will light up the sky. Vocally tight and husky, which compromises some words and phrases, Miller nevertheless gives an intense delivery.
Tension mounts and with contrasting bright and breezy performances from both Leckie and Emily Gibson as Jane, and the piece balances between pathos and bathos as soon as you can say ‘doors to manual!’ Claudia Rosier is vocally strong and physically dynamic as the climate activist who appreciates change happens with a whimper and not a bang.
Directed by Zoe Morris, this is certainly a play for our time and worthy of a larger audience. It has enough twists and turns to keep us engaged and certainly the subject matter is very prescient, as climate change is here to stay. Hopefully this young playwright will be too.
Written by: Will Leckie
Directed by: Zoe Morris
Produced by Martha French for Visceral Theatre Company
Crash and Burn plays at Etcetera Theatre until 22 September. Further information and bookings can be found here.