3 Billion Seconds, Vault Festival

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by Laura Kressly

The average baby born in Britain today will live for three billion seconds. They will be responsible for contributing approximately 58.6 tonnes of carbon to the environment. As such, climate scientists widely agree that not having children at all or having one less child than originally planned will have a significant effect on pollution levels. Climate change activists Daisy and Michael know this, and advocate for reducing the population in their environmentalism talks they give around the country – but what happens when they fall pregnant?

The conflict between moral compass and parental instinct is the driving force of this story that starts out more comedic and ends on a much darker note. The path along the way is rather confusing however, as writer Maud Dromgoole either tentatively introduces magic realism but it’s not fantastical enough to redefine this world, or she uses a series of increasingly unrealistic events to fulfill the couple’s mission of offseting carbon emissions of their unborn child. Daisy’s encounter with her doctor and Michael’s day out swimming with his bestie, and the lack of consequences they experience, just aren’t believable. Did they actually happen, or are they some sort of twisted fantasy?

Despite the untenable/not outrageous enough plot points, there’s an interesting premise at work. But there’s way too much going on for a festival length show. Great performances from Rhiannon Neads and Tayla Kovacevic Ebong, and rapid fire pace from director Beth Pitts go some way in distracting from the increasingly outrageous story, but the its density and stylistic vagueness make the whole come across as illogical in both a real world and surreal one.

3 Billion Seconds runs through 10 March.

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