Delta P, VAULT Festival

by Laura Kressly

It’s 2051 and the world is, of course, in the midst of a climate catastrophe. Floods, fires, and record temperatures are ravaging the planet worse than ever. In a diving bell descending to the floor of the North Sea, three men work on an oil rig. Pressure mounts – and pressure mounts – the lower they get, and their technology and mental health begin to fail.

This work-in-progress is still very much finding its feet, but its foundations – an examination of our complex relationship with the natural world, and our relentless determination to fight it – largely seem sound. At the moment the script is over-written in some scenes, though there’s a convincing increase of tension that leads to a surreally utopian resolution that raises more questions than it answers. There’s some use of video to broadcast what the characters see on their work laptop, though this is inconsistently used.

The three men who live in the diving bell, played by Finn O’Riordian, Gabriel Ross, and Rafael Merchan, have great chemistry that’s prone to volatility. They are complimented by Saskia Campbell-Crossfield, the sweet-natured girlfriend of O’Riordian’s character, Callum. Writer Ross would do well to bring her in more, as she’s a great foil to the under water tension and connects the men to life on land. It can be difficult to hear the dialogue sometimes however, due to the constant soundscape that attempts to capture the artificial environment keeping everyone alive.

There is certainly promise in this new play, particularly as a piece of eco-theatre. Further development to streamline the script, and polish the tech and design, will go a long way in making this a slick and relevant piece of theatre.

Delta P runs through 5 February.

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