Photos – Brett Boardman
Like some macabre Mikado painted panto dame, Belinda Giblin as Olympia sweeps on stage like a diabolic Dior doll.
An old ruin in the moonlight, a ghastly ghoul tossed from clouded sea, and appearing to have had her face lifted from the floor and spack-filled back to the front of her head.
She is the new breed of eco tourist, moneyed mandarins who go to watch islands sink, coastlines erode and landmarks crumble, all the while feasting on the delicacies of endangered species, the very model of consumption to extinction.
Stephen Carleton’s play carries a colourful name, The Turquoise Elephant, but it is the darkest of comedies, coal black, a fatalistic farce about embracing and claiming catastrophic climate change as a grotesque status symbol.
Only the privileged elite have the distinction of enjoying extinction.
The play begins with the announcement that Melbourne has been submerged in its own sewage. “Shit. Shit. Shit.”, says environmental activist blogger, Basra. Indeed.
Here in Sydney, she lives a sheltered life hermetically sealed in a secure apartment, presided over by her aunt, Augusta Macquarie, grandiose and Grand Guignol very model of a relic Governor General, an environmental vandal, an old school, born to rule fossil fool for fossil fuel. Her affluence elevates her from the effluence engulfing the streets.
Shit sticks, however, marked by her entrance in excrement smeared outer garment, a top coat she discards quickie smarts while deriding the terrorist tactics of the plebs led by a crazy clown who appears to have taken control of broadcast media, beaming his jester gesturing and raving rants into the homes of the rich and fatuous.
Maggie Dence as Augusta and Belinda Giblin as Olympia are superb creations, commanding in their characterisation, hilarious in their hideousness.
Olivia Rose as her niece, Basra, founder of the blog, The Turquoise Elephant, the name of the colour chosen suitably post Green. Catherine Davies is the hired help, an environmental refugee. Julian Garner plays a charming chancer, Olympia’s shallow toy boy, an American entrepreneur pitching to profiteer from the climatic cataclysm.
Under director Gale Edwards, The Turquoise Elephant boasts impressive production values, with sterile, futurist set design by Brian Thomson suitably augmented by lighting and AV designer, Verity Hampson, and the couture and coif cleverness of costume designer, Emma Vine. It’s a show where there’s no denying the elephant in the room, a climatic and climactic ninety minute nightmare.
Griffin Theatre Company presents
The Turquoise Elephant
by Stephen Carleton
Director Gale Edwards
Venue: SBW Stables Theatre | 10 Nimrod Street, Kings Cross NSW
Dates: 14 October – 26 November 2016
Tickets: $55 – $35
Bookings: www.griffintheatre.com.au | 02 9361 3817