Review: Nevergreen (Living Record)

“Can you hear? Can you listen?” Katurah Morrish is both herself and the pioneering scientist Rachel Carson in Nevergreen, an ambitious film by Eloise Poutlon. It forms both part of the Living Record Festival and a wider, developing, digital project by producing company the wonderful.

Nevergreen is the first work to fully explore the life of Rachel Carson (1907-1964) from a fictional perspective. It is written by Gus Mitchell and includes animation by Josh McClure.

It boasts location work on the beautiful open spaces of Hampstead Heath as well as an artist’s studio, and traditional webcam in Morrish’s home. The score is by Georgina Lloyd-Owen and Luc Wilkinson.

Screencap from Nevergreen

Rachel Carson was a marine biologist, concerned with the rise of chemical pollution and the development of global environmentalism. Her quote “as crude as the caveman’s club, the chemical barrage has been hurled against the fabric of life” is as good as any to highlight her philosophy.

Her books, notably The Edge of the Sea and Silent Spring, reveal a love of nature and a fierce interest in its survival. Sadly, as is the lot for many women in the scientific field, she has been partially forgotten over time.

In Nevergreen, which seeks to address the balance and bring Carson back into prominence, her love of nature is underlined by Poulton by placing Morrish out in the open, at one with the earth; and in the animations which accompany Mitchell’s text.

Screencap from Nevergreen

There is a communion with the natural world in the script, and a litany of pesticides which verges on the poetic. Few elements of archive footage of Carson are available, and none showing her in an informal setting.

This is where Nevergreen really starts to take flight. Her engagement with nature echoes our own. During the months we have been confined to home, many of us break the mundane day by a simple walk to the park to watch birds and animals sharing our world with us.

We are the friends and protectors with whom they live side by side. It is important that we do not cause them harm by man-made interventions.

Screencap from Nevergreen

This forty-seven minute film is always looking for a new angle on a still-current wish to improve the environment. Poulton brings every element together to reveal a new perspective on Carson, guiding Morrish through a performance that is pleasingly layered.

Morrish is excellent whether she is assuming the role of the scientist or simply being “Katurah”. Before lockdown struck last year, Nevergreen was planned as a short stage piece to be presented at LAMDA. It has now become something far more free and energetic in digital form.

Nevergreen is available as part of the Living Record Festival until 22 February. For more details and to book a ticket go here.

LouReviews received complimentary access to review Nevergreen.

Other reviews from Living Record: Broken Link | Controversy