Review: Afloat (Edinburgh Fringe, online)

Bláthnaid and Debs, best friends, are the sole survivors of a natural disaster in Dublin which has left it split open and underwater.

This play by Eva O’Connor (who plays Bláthnaid) and Hildegard Ryan, Afloat, presented by Sunday’s Child, takes the current concern about climate change and posits what might happen in the near future.

As the two women watch the end of their world from the top of Liberty Hall, they reminisce about the life they have lost, waters lapping around them.

This is a definite call for action and understanding about how the issues within the world affect all of us, even on the edge of the apocalypse. Debs (played by Annette O’Shea) and Bláthnaid react in different ways to what was slowly beginning to change.

A TED talk which interrupts the action is purely informative about heat, cold, and the extinction of coastal regions and their microsystems. At first these interruptions felt irritating, but they lighten the mood thanks to Michael David McKernan’s oily presenter.

Promotional image for Afloat

O’Connor and O’Shea give effective performances as their characters spend those last few days remembering how “woke” the city had become.

From their dark, cold, damp perch, they recall how people sipped their pints of Guinness, then staggered out to join an Extinction Rebellion demo.

There is a certain irony in a piece of digital theatre spouting data about the effect on carbon emissions of internet streaming, but that aside, there are interesting statistics here and a quirky take on environmentalism.

These women are two victims of harm and hopelessness, thrown together for the final throes of the ‘death wave’. But all is not as it seems, and ultimately the quality of the writing carries Afloat to a curious conclusion.

Fringe rating: ***

You can stream Afloat (directed by Anna Simpson) on the Edinburgh Festival Fringe’s Summerhall Online platform until the end of August: book your ticket here.

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