By Meredith Jones Russell
An earnest entreaty to save our planet, How to Save a Rock is a hugely well-intentioned and charming play which just slightly runs out of steam. It’s packed full of other forms of energy, however, as the whole show claims to be carbon neutral, powered by an on-stage bike and solar power.
It’s 2026, and the pressure is on to revive our ailing planet. Alfie receives a letter from Ivan, the last living polar bear who claims to be stuck in Scotland as a result of the melted polar ice caps. Only Alfie and his two best friends can help him out, so they set off on a journey to rescue him, via an unhelpful local airport, the Blackpool Illuminations and an enormous offshore wind farm.
Pigfoot Theatre have got wonderfully creative to create the world of the show; with almost no scenery they decorate the stage with solar lights and make seagulls from litterpickers, train tannoy systems from tin cans and a boat from a piece of tarpaulin. There’s wonderful live music, plenty of alarming science facts about our ailing planet, and a brilliant moment when the audience are encouraged to wave banners and join in with a song to represent a large-scale climate change protest.
However, for all the warnings, statistics and legitimate concern, the play lacks any real sense of urgency. The three friends on a mission to save the world are oddly calm about the whole thing and the pace often lags. The lack of liveliness does not help the acoustics in Dynamic Earth’s Biosphere – with a live piano accompaniment and a squeaky bike to contend with, the actors often struggle to be heard as everything is just slightly smaller, less enthusiastic and more downplayed than you’d expect from what is in essence a children’s play.
Overall, How to Save a Rock is an adorable show with all the best intentions, but it could just could do with a bit more energy to really light it up.
How to Save a Rock runs through 23 August.
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