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« Irreversible - Josh 301 | Main | The cost of public policy »
Friday
Nov072014

Ouch

Chris Rapley has turned his hand to stagecraft, penning a new play about - you guessed it - climate change, which is being staged at London's Royal Court Theatre. Not bad for a first-time author! Here's the first review, from What's on Stage:

Had it been more interestingly presented, it could have amounted to the starkest message on a stick ever mounted at the Royal Court. Instead, it's probably the worst play ever seen on that hallowed stage, convincing you that the world can't end quickly enough if this is all we can expect from the so-called home of new writing.

Ouch.

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Reader Comments (41)

I seem to recall his creative writing skills when he staged the Climate Change exhibition at the Science Museum. He showed he wasn't very good at creating myths.

Nov 7, 2014 at 4:07 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

5 stars from The Guardian of course (seriously)

Nov 7, 2014 at 4:19 PM | Unregistered Commentercjcjc

and they say we're harsh when discussing bad climate research

Nov 7, 2014 at 4:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Tol

This is all about exploiting every avenue for the purposes of propaganda and nothing more. Remember 28-gate? Some thought it strange that the BBC's head of comedy was there. Now we know they were there merely to ensure orders were disseminated correctly to the likes of Brigstock, Cox, Ince etc.

Nov 7, 2014 at 4:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Jones

Some have starved to death. Some have had their hopes for a better future dashed. Some have been scared witless. Some have the 'eat or heat' dilemma each winter. Some have had precious landscapes trashed by turbines. Some have been burdened with lunatic legislation such as the UK's Climate Change Act. Some universities have sold part of their soul to get climate institutes. Some folks have to see wave after wave of mediocre or even junk science generously funded and degrading much loved fields of study. We have seen famous people feature in trashy terrorising films like 'No Pressure'. Some have endured verbal abuse and some have seen career setbacks for daring to challenge the orthodoxy of climate alarm. All traceable to a handful of quite unimpressive minds exploiting climate scare opportunities in science, aided and abetted and cheered along and funded by schemers in and around UN bodies. Now to add to all these troubles, we have what sounds like another trashy contribution from the arts world. And of course throughout this disgraceful saga, countless opportunities to improve food and energy production, develop economies, increase academic standards, and build constructively on the great achievements of industrialised societies have been pushed aside. Will there ever be anything like a full reckoning of the losses and setbacks we have suffered thanks to skilful hyping and politicking around a very poorly supported conjecture that our CO2 emissions were rushing us to catastrophe? I sympathise with the unfortunate reviewer of this new play for having to sit through something so dire. But the world the reviewer re-entered upon leaving the theatre is awash with financial and other encouragements to produce even more harm for the sake of the same cause being promoted by such as Rapley.

Nov 7, 2014 at 5:25 PM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

Rapley is not as good, as up to date, or as eclectic, as he thinks he is. I've been to one of his lectures which was full of trite comments like the earth has no operator's manual or that the earth is resetting itself - schoolboy prose. Now his pretentious play has been rubbished what next? Surely he wants to write a book, surely he has already written to the BBC asking to present a documentary. Of course he has.

Nov 7, 2014 at 5:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterIn the know

"Ouch?" As a playwright I can assure you the correct response to a review like that is, "AIEEE!!!"

Nov 7, 2014 at 5:41 PM | Unregistered Commenterjorgekafkazar

the only 5 star review is at the Guardian
http://www.theguardian.com/stage/2014/nov/07/2071-review-urgent-call-history-royal-court-theatre

RTCC not impressed
http://www.rtcc.org/2014/11/07/review-2071-royal-court-theatre/

"It’s heavy on data and he doesn’t scrimp on jargon. And the effect is tiring. As the play progresses, the head of the girl in front of me cautiously droops onto the shoulder of her companion. I wonder if this is a fledgling romance or the result of one too many references to the cryosphere."

and 2 stars here:

http://londonist.com/2014/11/climate-change-takes-centre-stage-in-2071.php

"2071 commits the cardinal sin of theatre: it’s boring. "

Nov 7, 2014 at 5:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Billington, in his review in the Guardian, says:
“… he tells us that “we are the first human beings to breathe this level of carbon dioxide. And, in a clear rebuke to climate-change deniers, he warns: ‘All the warming that is occurring is due to us.’”

Nov 7, 2014 at 5:45 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Guardian link
http://www.theguardian.com/stage/2014/nov/07/2071-review-urgent-call-history-royal-court-theatre?commentpage=1

Nov 7, 2014 at 5:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Schofield

Not a surprise, I have seen Rapley lecture and he is as inspiring as Phil Jones, who I have also had the "pleasure" of hearing.

Both could make decent money selling their lectures as a cure for insomnia.

Nov 7, 2014 at 5:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

As Barry says, even Sophie at RTCC thinks it's boring.

Here's another 2/5 review
http://www.londontheatre.co.uk/londontheatre/reviews/2071royalcourt14.htm

"reading his speech off an autocue positioned at the front of the dress circle, in a dull monotone, "

What were they thinking?

Nov 7, 2014 at 6:28 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

"...we are the first human beings to breathe this level of carbon dioxide"

Ignorant drivel. We exhale 40,000 ppm all the time. In a closed room, CO2 levels can reach 1000 to 3000 ppm. U.S. subs only sound an alarm for CO2 levels above 8,000 ppm.

"Both [Rapley and Jones] could make decent money selling their lectures as a cure for insomnia." --Don Keiller

Surely. They've been hired to put us all to sleep so the UN can steal the planet while we're out.

Nov 7, 2014 at 6:29 PM | Unregistered Commenterjorgekafkazar

The Torygraph gave it 3/5 (but maybe they just read the Gruaniad's review and knocked 2 off)

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/theatre/theatre-reviews/11212665/2071-Royal-Court-review.html

Nov 7, 2014 at 7:04 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian

John Shade @ 5.45: Why so restrained? I would welcome what you really think! By the way, the guardian reviewers exit poll on the audience disagrees, "he may be preaching to the converted". That is very true of Sloane Square.
I liked "we are the first human beings to breath this level of CO2". Obviously Rapley's trips to Antarctica were not submarine. In respect of that, it is a great wonder to me that having spent so much time there and living amongst that monstrosity of ice, permanently well below melting point,( an experience I would die for, but will probably die without), he believes that a few parts per million of CO2 can provide the thermal energy to melt it all and flood the world.
But the clue is there even in this review. He is a dedicated Malthusian - there are simple too many human beings on the planet ( he has already written a book on it). There is the answer - CAGW is the means to an end and has perverted his entire scientific life's work in pursuit of this ideology to the extent that he believes he knows the state of the world 57 years in the future.
Well, I clearly remember 57 years in the past. I was an avid watcher of " Tomorrows World" and NOBODY came even close to predicting the world as it is now in ANY aspect, technical, political, economic, social or philosophical (except by pure luck). That is the point of the " technological advance" that the politicians despairingly hope will rescue their bad decisions - it enables the "unimaginable" , its record on the "imagined" development is less impressive.

Nov 7, 2014 at 7:13 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenese2

Yesterday I sat in a meeting at the furniture manufacturing company where I work. The company is paid between £3k and £15k per month by the government to produce heat from waste wood. The following topic was discussed: How can we burn double the amount of scrap wood (which we have available) and earn double the subsidy without roasting our poor employees? Answer: leave the doors open and maybe add roof extraction.

I said that it is economic madness that the state should pay for excessive heating and the dumping of heat to atmosphere, as mad as Spain's nocturnal solar industry. Everybody had a good laugh at my earnestness. But what an indictment of the policies which damage the public finances and encourage business to milk away to nobody's practical benefit!

Nov 7, 2014 at 7:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrent Hargreaves

Phillip Bratby (Nov 7, 2014 at 4:07 PM)
The real scandal surrounding Rapley's climate change exhibition at the Science Museum was that it was put on by order of Environment Minister Ed Miliband. Rapley was planning an exhibition anyway, but Ed phoned him and asked him to put something on, at six weeks' notice, ahead of the forthcoming elections, which Rapley did, hiring a green PR firm to do the deed.
For the head of a major cultural institution to jump to the orders of a government minister is shocking. (Remember how the heads of Britain's major museums faced down Mrs Thatcher over admission charges?) I complained to the trustees, but got no reply. Perhaps others were shocked too, because he left soon after.
Rapley's other claim to fame is his association with a bunch of psychoanalysts who believe that not being depressed about climate change is a sign of mental illness. He chaired their conference, wrote the introduction to the collection of resulting papers: “Engaging with Climate Change: Psychoanalytic and Interdisciplinary Perspectives” and even wrote a review of the book on Amazon.
I've written at some length about this on my site under the category “weirdos”. Rapley is a menace.
By the way, I learnt at one of the reviews of 2071 that Stephen Emmott's equally bonkers Royal Court doomfest “Ten Billion” (financed by us via the European Union) is being turned into a film.

Nov 7, 2014 at 8:18 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

I assume the cost of this flop has been born, indirectly, by the British tax payer and that got me wondering.

If all the money wasted on the CAGW/ AGW/ climate change/whatever they call it next week band wagon had been given to real scientists, maybe, just maybe we would be well on the way to a cure for cancer or some other worthwhile project that would have a direct bearing on the health/prosperity of the nation. Something that would allow the tax payer to see that their hard earned money had been well spent.

It is possible that that sort of thinking is beyond the capabilities of the green blob.

Nov 7, 2014 at 10:04 PM | Unregistered Commenterivan

I think we are seeing the dawn of a new academic specialism in English departments in universities; climate change literary criticism. It should become a flourishing field of study provided other writers follow Chris Rapley's lead in ignoring the injunction "don't make a drama out of a crisis." It will also lead to a huge growth in funding for English literature now that it is tackling the most serious problem mankind has faced in the entire history of our species.

How can I jump on the band wagon?

Nov 7, 2014 at 10:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

Roy (Nov 7, 2014 at 10:30 PM)

How can I jump on the band wagon?
You can't. I got there before you.
http://geoffchambers.wordpress.com/category/apocalypse-close/

Nov 7, 2014 at 10:44 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

The composer Aaron Copland remarked that when a literary man puts together two words about music, one of them will be wrong. Maybe, similarly, astrognomes should leave the theatre to those who know how to do it.

Nov 7, 2014 at 11:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterAllan M

Remember, according to the mantra, climate scientists are naturally brilliant at absolutely anything, which must be true because climate science is the hardest thing in the world. That is why nobody but climate scientists can possibly be right about it. And if climate science is the hardest thing in the world, then climate scientists are going to be simply brilliant at everything else they turn their hand to, because it is so much easier.

I'm just surprised Rapley doesn't have a unit of generals standing around him scribbling down everything he says on little notepads.

Nov 8, 2014 at 1:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterSpence_UK

Oh Jeez. Ouch is not the word. I almost had a seizure reading that review. I haven't laughed so much since watching Ruby the swearing parrot on youtube.

Nov 8, 2014 at 2:55 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Wait just one minute. How do you get to see the shoes?
===============

Nov 8, 2014 at 6:40 AM | Unregistered Commenterkim

Also, what attic has been plundered for that 2071 Picture of Gray D'ore, accent egu?
===========

Nov 8, 2014 at 6:46 AM | Unregistered Commenterkim

In the West End tradition of turning Hollywood Blockbuster films (Thriller, Dirty Dancing, Ghost Chitty Chitty Bang Bang ,vica versa Mamma Mia and Chicago ) into musical extravagancers

Fresh from Godzilla Independance Day , fame director Roland Emerish Climate Change CGI disaster movie classic "The Day After Tomorrow" the Opera.

and its most famous Aria

"its cold its cold its cold its cold its cold its cold its cold its cold but the world is warming up".

Nov 8, 2014 at 8:53 AM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

"message" work in the arts is blatant propaganda and inherently boring.

Trying to bludgeon people with an activist message of any stamp is antithetical to sound aesthetics.

This does sound like one of the worst pieces of theater ever, although I would not waste any money to find out even if I were in the neighborhood.

The problem is reminiscent of a statement sometimes attributed to Oscar Wilde, that "all bad poetry is sincere." Although the actual quote, if a web search is reliable, seems to be:


“All bad poetry springs from genuine feeling. To be natural is to be obvious, and to be obvious is to be inartistic.”

Nov 8, 2014 at 10:19 AM | Registered CommenterSkiphil

Diogenes: "I clearly remember 57 years in the past. I was an avid watcher of " Tomorrows World" and NOBODY came even close to predicting the world as it is now in ANY aspect..."

Quite right! I clearly remember watching Raymond Baxter demonstrating a laser. He showed the trick of bursting a red balloon that was inflated inside a white one (or was it vice-versa?). Then he explained that as far as he was aware, no one had the foggiest idea what lasers could possibly be used for.

Nov 8, 2014 at 10:44 AM | Registered CommenterHarry Passfield

How can I jump on the bandwagon?

It's been done:

Ouch! The Rutles

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iVFRgoQe86U

Nov 8, 2014 at 11:49 AM | Unregistered Commenterhandjive

I had a chuckle at this observation in the review - "One of the most outrageously anti-theatrical events I've ever attended. Auditions must have gone on for weeks to find the most boring and incompetent speaker in the world – Professor Chris Rapley CBE, professor of climate change at University College, London" The CAGW crowd putting their best man on stage (well done), I wonder if he will update his CV to include this assessment of his speaking competency?

Nov 8, 2014 at 11:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterRobert Thomson

"Springtime for Mitchell and Chris-Rapley
Watch out, Europe
We're going on tour!"

Nov 8, 2014 at 12:12 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

If Malcolm Walker (MD of retailer Iceland) ever turned theatre critic - his economy of expression would no doubt result in the review of this being reduced to one word beginning with b.

As others have said - the taxpayers get rinsed again by The Blob.

Nov 8, 2014 at 12:59 PM | Unregistered Commentertomo

"The Day After Tomorrow" the Opera.
-----------------------------------------
Your tiny hand is frozen?

Nov 8, 2014 at 6:16 PM | Registered Commenterjohanna

Clearly Rapley should stick to what he's good at. If only we knew what that was...

Nov 8, 2014 at 7:18 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Could someone please insert some of Rapley's words into one of those Hitler parody videos? Then at least there could be some drama, humor, and entertainment.

Nov 9, 2014 at 3:11 AM | Registered CommenterSkiphil

"'[M]essage' work in the arts is blatant propaganda and inherently boring." --Skiphil

Didactic works seldom have anything to say beyond, "ME TOO! ME TOO!"

Nov 9, 2014 at 6:42 AM | Unregistered Commenterjorgekafkazar

I'm visiting England about next March. Will this production still be running in the west End by then? It does sound unmissable.

Nov 9, 2014 at 10:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterBill

I'm visiting England about next March. Will this production still be running in the west End by then? It does sound unmissable.

Nov 9, 2014 at 10:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterBill

As the Director of BAS, with a £40 million budget, he was preaching the apocalypse for some time:

http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/apocalypse-now-how-mankind-is-sleepwalking-to-the-end-of-the-earth-485640.html

February 10, 2005
The (London) Independent (Geoffrey Lean at his best and it was Tony Blair's attempt to hype up the rhetoric at the 2005 Met Office Exeter Doomsday Conference)

"Melting Arctic ice, shrinking glaciers, oceans turning to acid. The world's top scientists warned last week that dangerous climate change is taking place today, not the day after tomorrow. This threat to international security dwarfs any threat from any terrorist organizations. There is no military solution to the problem of collapsing ecosystems.

You don't believe it? Then, says Geoffrey Lean, read this..."

"Professor Chris Rapley, director of the British Antarctic Survey, presented new evidence that the West Antarctic ice sheet is beginning to melt, threatening eventually to raise sea levels by 15ft: 90 per cent of the world's people live near current sea levels. Recalling that the IPCC's last report had called Antarctica "a slumbering giant", he said: "I would say that this is now an awakened giant."

He repeated his slumbering/ awakened giant mantra at conferences around the world over the next few months. It was the subject of a BAS press release, 03/2005 02 Feb 2005:

"The contribution that rapid thinning of the Antarctic ice sheet is making to global sea-level rise is a cause for concern according to Director of British Antarctic Survey (BAS), Professor Chris Rapley, speaking this week at a conference in Exeter. “The last IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - 2001) report warned that Antarctica was a slumbering giant’. Recent scientific evidence leads us to believe that the giant is waking up. Policy-makers need to know what the consequences will be for society.”

He was claiming that the Larsen B ice shelf breakup was a sign of imminent catastrophe, but clearly was not aware of what his own scientists had been working on. This press release was just 3 weeks later, no.4/2005 23 Feb 2005.

"The retreat of Antarctic ice shelves is not new according to research published this week (24 Feb) in the journal Geology, by scientists from Universities of Durham, Edinburgh and British Antarctic Survey (BAS)."

"A study of George VI Ice Shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula is the first to show that this currently ‘healthy’ ice shelf experienced an extensive retreat about 9500 years ago, more than anything seen in recent years.The retreat coincided with a shift in ocean currents that occurred after a long period of warmth."

"It is important to appreciate that ice shelf collapses have happened before. For example, BAS scientists Carol Pudsey and Jeff Evans reported that the Prince Gustav Ice Shelf, which collapsed in 1995, had also collapsed several thousand years ago. This new study is the first to show that a currently ‘healthy’ Antarctic Peninsula ice shelf has retreated in the past, and that the ocean may have been involved in the past retreat."

Nov 10, 2014 at 11:13 AM | Registered Commenterdennisa

Not really a play, is it? Just a lecture. Or, perhaps more accurately, a sermon.

Nov 10, 2014 at 12:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterCal

What chance of an audience which will laugh at the melodramatic bits, cheer surging charts to the rafters, and generally help the poor chap out when the going is dull? I don't imagine that happening - anyone who would choose to attend this 'play' is unlikely to do anything other than sit there with jaws agape, perhaps slowly filling up with dismay about either the money spent on the tickets, or the dreadful future in prospect depending on their degree of gullibility.

Nov 10, 2014 at 4:48 PM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

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