Sustainable development

16 April 2019

Emma Rogerson found much to love about the eco-friendly How To Save A Rock

One of my favourite wanky theatre quotes is 'constraints breed creativity'. Infer from that what you will about me, but Pigfoot in association with Squidink Theatre’s How to Save a Rock definitely provide themselves with a unique set of constraints, resulting in some really creative solutions. As the festival’s only self-proclaimed carbon-neutral show, everything in the show from the lights to set is generated by recycled energy and material.

The premise of a girl travelling across the world to rescue the last polar bear while attempting to keep her own carbon footprint as low as possible was so unusual and gorgeous – I was so invested in this story (I’m also a massive eco freak so this was right up my street). The opening was just fantastic – the bike generating light, a stage literally littered with rubbish which would later become both puppetry and prop, set against a dialogue about how the world was made and how we ended up here, stretching forward into a near, distopian future of global warming. As an audience member, for the most part, I felt fully engaged, whether I was participating in making noise or contributing an opinion on global warming or being made to be a sit in protester as a key plot point. The actors monologues cover a breadth of topics from mooncups to having children to tote bags – and all the actors deserve credit for providing interesting, stimulating starting points.

I was so behind this as a premise, and so wanted to love it all. And I did – up until a point. And it was a very specific point that my loyalty to the show started to falter: when it was revealed that the polar bear letter was a forgery by a friend who wanted to provoke protest in her to get her old personality back. In that moment, what was such a unique story and promising premise became something so conventional and flat. The relationship between the characters didn’t seem developed enough to justify such a convenient plot twist – I didn’t see Coco’s struggle or her friend’s concern. After that point, I just found the ending a bit too dull, complicated and long. Which was such a shame because I genuinely loved the show up until then – there was so much warm humour (with jokes from problems with mooncups to year nine’s overuse of Lynx Africa) and intelligent observations and compassion. Within the aesthetic and the tools used to tell this story, the zero carbon constraint led to some really quirky, unique moments, but the same constraints weren’t put on the story itself. It just became a bit too conventional, especially towards the end. Going forward, I’d love to see some development on the story and the ending, so that it fits in its unusual premise and aesthetic. It’s so close to being a completely new kind of theatre, the story just needs to catch up with the style.

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Photo credit: Brett Chapman