Review: The Weatherman (Basic Space) ****

Taking on big issues can seem a daunting task. Why are you telling this story? Who should be speaking it? How do you tread the thin line between being pertinent and being preachy? Such is an issue faced by Quirk in their green show: The Weatherman. But they needn’t worry. Like your carbon footprint, this show will leave a mark. It’s indelible and a highly personal and enjoyable experience.

For as long as Sandra has known, she has been environmentally friendly. After all, it’s how she was brought up by her Dad. Even if other people don’t do it, he always said they should. But he’s not here right now. And Sandra begins to ask herself a question: why me?

Home for Sandra is a house with no power. As such, the safe-house at Basic Space makes the perfect setting. With the bare essentials to get by, all Sandra needs is her bed and boxes. Even with so little, she still offers her guests what she has. On arrival, she gives the audience her blankets and asks if anyone would like tea. Although it might take a while, what with it being solar powered…and night time. It’s an immersive experience: where else would you sit on a bed and be offered raw vegetables to eat. And where else would you accept this offer!

The Weatherman 1

A large part of this willingness on the audience’s part is due to the effervescent Grace Cheatle. Welcoming you into her home, she plays the perfect host, even tucking you into your blankets. In her funniest moments, you laugh along with her. At her lowest, you want to tell her it’s going to be okay. This is the first character I have encountered in immersive theatre where the interaction doesn’t feel somewhat artificial. This is a character written and conceived with care. The ideas she represents are not more important than her, though this arguably is a struggle her character faces.

Dom Riley has written a one-hander that is short and sweet: self-contained, this story takes place in just 25 minutes. And there lies my only critique: you could easily sit with Sandra for hours. Although this time restriction is no doubt due to the conditions of the original conception of the project at the Arcola. As the project continues though, I hope to have that cup of tea some day.

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