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The Resistance

The Resistance
Writer: Kip Chapman
Director: Kip Chapman
The Rebel Theatre
February 16 – March 11, 2023

The Resistance is a great option for a family outing, for lovers of interactive theatre and for those who like a rollicking comedy with a serious message. Best described as creatively organised chaos, interactive theatre-maker Kip Chapman brings together a group of climate change supporters ambitious to achieve the biggest climate change march ever and – hopefully – save the planet from certain catastrophe.

While the climate change strikers are drawn together by their resistance to government inaction on climate change they have personal agendas. A mixed group they include middle-aged Drew (Genevieve Lemon) who is keen to recruit members for her choir. Successful with the audience who are amazingly cooperative – and tuneful – she herds the group as they periodically break out into individual concerns. Bundilla (Lakesha Grant), is angry about the treatment of her First Nation People, Miro (Jack Walton)  the IT obsessive, is routinely thrown off course by phobias and allergies and Pepper (Thea Sholl) is keen on explosive ordnance.

When we first meet Bundilla’s bestie, Marlee (Diya Goswami), she is looking to Eva Lawson – Greta Thunberg by another name – who is shortly expected in Sydney to lead the rally for inspiration. The group have gathered to greet Lawson’s arrival with chants, banners, and posters, assisted in their plans by several surprised but keen members co-opted from the audience. A last-minute text lets the crew know that Lawson has cancelled her appearance.

While at first devastated, the group realise they can re-focus their energies and adopt the dedicated – but unsure – Marlee as the home-grown face of their campaign. In a TV interview with a smooth-talking Minister for Energy, Jordan King (Jo Turner), Marlee ups the stakes getting the sceptical Minister to promise Australia’s support for the forthcoming Athens Agreement on Climate Change if the rally exceeds 1.5 million participants.

It is a rocky road ahead and as an ambitious Pepper drills her bemused para-military group, Drew urges the art department into action, Miro rushes up and down his IT tower and amazing predictions of rally attendance flash across the multiple screens overhead. Will the group survive the mounting tension between Marlee and Bundilla? Can Marlee pull the necessary national support? And will the rally take place at all? Even Melbourne’s weather gets into the mix and jokes at Adelaide’s expense.

The set (Tobhiyah Stone Feller) is amazing, apparently anarchic but fit-for-purpose. While incorporating a large quantity of stage furniture – tents, towers, suspended and cleverly used TV screens – it also manages to accommodate Pepper’s guerrilla group, a hilarious send-up of TV current affair programme, and a banner waving practice by the climate strikers. The often buzzy stage action and an occasional perplexed glance from an audience participant enhances the interactive experience as does the cheerful willingness of the audience to respond when invited.

The young actors bring a lovely energy and impressive conviction to their roles while the experienced Lemon and Turner – who also plays Officer Patrick McQuade and TV presenter Garth Robb with equal assurance – add a necessary balance to what is a joyful celebration of both youthful idealism and collective commitment to a sustainable future.

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