Nola- Underbelly 3.15pm


This docu-drama about the BP oil spill in 2010 is brought to the stage by Look Left Look Right productions –who produced my favourite show, the daring and site specific You Once Said Yes, last year- and attempts to show, through conversations with those directly affected in New Orleans, what the immediate and long lasting effects were on the community. It is a highly affecting work and even with the small cast of four dipping out of characters and various accents it is never hard to work out what is being said by whom.

The drama unfolds via various accounts and it is almost harrowing to hear those on the rig reliving their moments of escape followed by details of a selfless rescue on a fellow worker by one of the riggers merely following his natural humane instincts whilst articulating the fact he would want to be saved if he were in the others predicament. Tales of smoke filled water ablaze with heat searing flames-underwater was the only refuge-clearly help the audience understand the desperate nature of the situation.

This was only the beginning however as the after effects were just as destructive on a community which had not yet had time to recover from the devastation of the fairly recent Hurricane Katrina. It certainly sounds like a community blighted by disaster whether natural or man made. It was not only humans however which suffered as the constant oil spill into the sea affected marine life as well as the bird population. Disturbing images of pelicans encrusted in oil are shown alongside tales of how trying to remove oil necessitated stripping them of their feathers whilst simultaneously sending them into a state of extreme distress.

How the media responded was also explored and the nature of litigation prevalent in the United States was exposed as billboards immediately shot up all over the place encouraging people to sue and make extortionate claims. All of this paints the events as being worthy of note and not just some news item to be replaced by the next big thing.

This production is definitely drama with a conscience and whilst it certainly never falls into light entertainment it does provoke thought and emotion more than eloquently. The four very young performers swap accents –and on occasion genders- and give almost flawless performances despite a few excusable faltering moments. The quality of drama on this years Fringe is exceptional-in contrast to comedy which is a struggling genre and perhaps needs a re-think- and Nola is up there with some of the better offerings this year.


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