Review: Green Alert

Ryan King’s environmentalist satire Green Alert tracks the discussions between a team of American politicians as they advise the President following attempts by a group of eco-terrorists to engage in nuclear warfare. Whilst the staging is minimal with only a table around which the characters are gathered, this captures the comedic intensity of the play and seeks to highlight the troubling notion that critical decisions which affect many are often made by few. This performance is consistently energetic and, whilst at points this energy seems excessive and occasionally works to the script’s detriment, this choice ensures that the audience’s attention rarely falters. 

From the beginning, it is clear that Ryan King has developed caricatures. The specific nuances of each character are extremely comedic and succeed in highlighting the polarised opinions and policies regarding environmental concerns. Some characters were more fully formed than others; the most successful characterization is General Walker played by Charlie Howe, whose rough, gritty American accent is entertaining and consistent. Throughout, his outbursts are well-timed at key moments when the script became very serious and so maintain the satirical elements within the play. However, not all of the caricatures feel as strong as General Walker- the conception of environmental advocate, Lauren Dijkstra, is less solid in its exaggeration. Therefore, whilst Isabel Raby delivers an impressive performance, her character seems less elaborately designed which reduces her comic potential. At times, the American accents amongst the cast tend to slip which becomes slightly distracting, but this does not majorly detract from the overall effect of the play.

Much of Ryan King’s dialogic tensions are achieved by presenting arguments between his characters, which creates a sense of chaos and disorganisation which often hinders the implementation of political environmental policies. However, I felt Aaron Rozanski’s portrayal of the Administrator does not capture the potential within King’s script to build tension due to his heightened monologues which remained at an amplified level throughout. In order to comedically reveal a character losing control over their sanity, Rozanski’s performance would benefit from more restraint at the beginning which will elevate the intensity of what should be the play’s most climactic sequences. In contrast, Olivia Swain’s portrayal of Vice President Lewin employs an impeccable knowledge of when subtlety is required. This ensured that her eventual outbursts elicited the most appreciation and laughter from the audience.

Overall, Green Alert is extremely quirky, but this reflects part of its charm. Occasionally, some scenes felt under rehearsed, but this does not detract from the talent shown by Ryan King in this script which dispenses a powerful message in a light-hearted manner. If some of the characterisations were more refined, this satire would deliver the full impact it deserves.

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