Cosmic Fear or The Day Brad Pitt Got Paranoia

theatre review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 13 Aug 2016

We all know it: climate change is happening. It’s happening faster and more catastrophically than we can imagine, and it will likely lead to the planet’s destruction, or at the very least the extinction of humankind. But talking about global warming’s a real downer. Empty Deck’s slippery, multilayered and fragmented show tackles the difficulties of staring the inconvenient truth in the face when irony and anxiety pervade the millennial consciousness.

The theatrical game it uses draws on pop culture: Brad Pitt finds himself cast as the unlikely potential saviour of the ecosystem in a series of surreal fantasies that the characters dream up onstage. The Hollywood star feels driven by a sudden angst about the impending climate apocalypse to take action through the medium of a green-spirited blockbuster. Brad becomes both a hero and an everyman as the three performers project their own fears and fantasies onto him – imagining Brad in meetings with skeptical Hollywood producers, and eventually venturing through the wilderness to live in a tent.

The talented young company take on Danish writer Christian Lollike's play with real inventiveness and vigour, combining livestreamed iPhone footage with a series of comic costume and character changes. The performers have a terrific ensemble connection and navigate Lollike's layered text with focused, comic virtuosity.

This playful theatricality and fast wit prevents the show from coming off as preachy, but beneath the deadpan role play is a real urgency, subtly skewering our desire to look away from the greatest threat facing humanity.