Carry On Up the Apocalypse
Seen at Tron Theatre, Glasgow;
touring until April 8
Reviewed by Mark Brown
Humanity in 2016, it is hardly controversial to suggest, is in a wretched state. However, if David Leddy’s new play International Waters is to be believed, things could get a whole lot worse.
The drama is a vision of apocalypse viewed from the perspective of four rich refugees who have boarded the last boat out of chaos-ravaged London. Sarah (the “trophy wife” of a rich businessman), Ben (a world famous crooner), Sophia (a former head of British intelligence) and Arian (a highly successful photojournalist and writer) have paid big bucks for their passage in a well-appointed suite on board a container tanker.
As the ship heads out into the Atlantic, the world is in the grip of catastrophe. A co-ordinated mega-crash in the financial markets and massive cyber attacks on the civil infrastructure are wreaking havoc across much of the planet.
Uber-capitalist Teddy Volkart (who, it seems, is a cross between Bill Gates, Rupert Murdoch and Donald Trump) is suspected of causing the cataclysm in order to wipe out his competitors. Whoever is behind the social collapse, Sarah and her companions are locked in a small room on a tanker which, worryingly, has veered way off its agreed course.
The ensuing drama is a curious beast. Imagine William Golding’s Lord Of The Flies rewritten as a postmodern drawing room comedy by a latter day Noel Coward.
The play, it seems, is intended to be part thriller, part comic satire. The problem is that Leddy, who directs his piece for his company Fire Exit, takes the best part of the show’s 75 minutes to achieve the right tone.
For the most part the characters seem like 21st-century cliches whose occasionally witty dialogue becomes mired in self-conscious flippancy. At one point, Leddy’s excremental bent has the universally talented ensemble (Claire Dargo, Robin Laing, Selina Boyack and Lesley Hart) running around Becky Minto’s appropriately claustrophobic set as if they were in a Carry On film.
Inevitably, the play has a twist. It would be wrong to give it away here, of course; although I’m not entirely sure that Leddy doesn’t flag it up somewhat himself.
From the Book of Revelation, to the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch and Cormac McCarthy’s novel The Road, human culture has always been obsessed with its own destruction. International Waters, which is frivolous even when it is being serious, is unlikely to be remembered as a classic of apocalyptic art.
Tour details: davidleddy.com
This review was originally published in the Sunday Herald on March 27, 2016
© Mark Brown