The Contingency Plan

Bush Theatre, London

London: The Contingency Plan : In repertoire to June 6, 2009

Posted by : Carole Woddis on May 10, 2009 – 13.50pm London

The Contingency Plan

On the Beach; Resilience

Bush Theatre,
Shepherds Bush Green, London W12 8QD
7.30; 2.30 & 7.30 Sats for both plays: see website for details

On the Beach runs 2hrs incl one interval;
Resilience runs 2hrs 15 mins incl one interval.

Signed perfs 9 May 2.30pm & 7.30pm Audio Described perfs Sat, 16 May 2.30pm & 7.30pm Captioned perfs Sat, 23 May 2.30pm & 7.30pm

TICKETS: 0208743 5050
In person: Mon– Sat

Review: by Carole Woddis of performance seen May 7, 2009

Steve Waters has been brewing up for something special for a while now.

And with this double bill, he’s hit the spot. On the Beach and Resilience form part of a double-bill at the tiny Bush Theatre.

It can’t be too long before both transfer to a larger stage or stages. For not only is its subject – climate change and the melting ice caps – controversially pressing. The form in which Waters has chosen to write the two plays, linking scientific knowledge and government, make them nothing less than a veritable `state of the Nation’ statement.

Each play can be seen separately but there’s no doubt seeing the two together add immeasurably to the potency of each.

On the Beach sets the scene. Will, a young glaciologist returns home from Antarctica to his parents on the Norfolk coast with Sarika, his newly acquired girl-friend, a Senior civil servant.

In his time, Robin, his father, was on the point of becoming the foremost climate expert in his field. But something `happened’. He had a breakdown and retreated to the Norfolk coast where his wife, Jenny, has lovingly stood by him whilst he has continued to monitor his habitat in forensic detail.

To warn or not to warn is the question that becomes clearer in the second play.

In On the Beach, Waters (good name in the circumstances) concentrates on the family. Robin’s long held predictions of rising sea levels and coastal flooding and the tensions arising from a son rebelling against his father’s legacy get fused into molten fury.

A doomsday scenario, On the Beach, however, is no `disaster’ movie writ small. It’s much cleverer than that and what makes it special is the quality of Waters’ writing: spry, sharp, meticulously researched and suffused with an intense sense of locality. Crucially, Waters never loses sight of the personal battling against the inner as well as outer rising temperature levels.

Director Michael Longhurst directs with scrupulous clarity. And the acting is simply incomparable with Robin Soans producing in Robin, a character every bit as elemental as the conditions he has been scrutinising for so long. Nerve-tingling in every sense.


Will: Geoffrey Streatfield
Sarika: Stephanie Street
Robin: Robin Soans
Jenny: Susan Brown

Director: Michael Longhurst
Associate Director: Hannah Ashwell-Dickinson
Designer: Tom Scutt
Lighting Designer: Oliver Fenwick
Sound Designer:: Emma Laxton
Assistant Director: Francesca Seeley
Assistant Designer: Verity Sadler