Stephanie Martin’s Rage, but Hope bills itself as ‘Eight interconnected and uplifting stories inspired by the Extinction Rebellion uprising’. After success at this years’ Edinburgh Fringe, the piece has found a new home at the Streatham Space Project.
While Rage, But Hope is certainly a play which asks urgent questions about mankind’s relationship with our planet, and discusses the probability of our survival, it’s important to note that the play is much more than this. It’s the exploration of the human experience surrounding these issues – and the thoughtful, complex way in which they’re presented, that really gives this piece its punch.
The play comprises a collection of monologues; characters of various ages and backgrounds discussing their thoughts and experiences in relation to the Extinction Rebellion protests, and the wider environmental crisis as a whole. Comic moments are never far away, however it’s not all jokes about avocados and reusable coffee cups (although they do feature, and to great effect). The various characters address the audience directly with stream of consciousness style storytelling; describing their loves and losses, and how the impending doom coupled with other people’s responses to it has affected them. The cast is strong, and Scott Le Crass’ direction works well.
The piece manages to incorporate a myriad of overlapping social issues and perspectives along the way. A young, gay black character (played quite wonderfully by Dior Clarke) recounts his anger and disbelief following the realisation that white middle class folk are willingly being placed into police custody in an effort to ‘save’ the planet. He reminds us that young black men have lost their lives in that same Brixton police station, asking, “Who exactly are you trying to save?”.
The play culminates in a courtroom scene, focusing on characters who have been arrested for their involvement in the protests. While the scene contained some genuine and heartfelt moments (Venice Evans’ portrayal of a timid yet passionately principled Welsh school teacher was particularly touching), for me, there didn’t seem to be enough cohesion between this section and the rest of the piece. And by the time a former police sergeant took to the floor to explain the reasons behind his involvement in the protests, I couldn’t help but feel that his points had already been made well enough by the speeches that preceded it.
With some skilled and engaging performances breathing life into Stephanie Martin’s often beautifully observed and nuanced dialogue, Rage, But Hope is definitely one to catch… while you can.
Rage, But Hope is playing at the Streatham Space Project every evening until this Sunday 1st December. The theatre is running a ‘Pay What You Can’ ticketing option for this production – more details are available on the venue’s website.