Those ancient, lurking passions that linger in the subtext between two people, who, because of vicissitude and circumstance can’t consummate an attraction that exists between them for years on end is an experience common enough for any audience to identify with. The ingenious trick that David Greig pulls off with his new play, Kyoto, is the bigger political metaphor from which this common dilemma hangs.
The play creates a potential couple, one a scientist and the other a civil servant who have met regularly at conferences over a decade since their first encounter at the Kyoto summit on global warming. Their attraction to each other is evident, and finally, a decade on, they are free to explore the situation. But will they? ‘The dilemma then, to put it crudely, is will they finally shag or not,’ says Greig.
The metaphor about global warming ties in nicely with the emotional stakes. ‘The ecological issue is so ever-present that it’s really the air the play breathes, but this is meant to be funny, it’s not meant to preach or teach as a play. The point is this thing, the issue of global warming, has been in the background for ten years in our society. Just like the attraction between these people, it’s the elephant in the room, something has been happening for a decade, and we’ve reached a crisis point where we have to find out what they’re willing to do about it.’
From the author of such recent successes as Being Norwegian and Midsummer, you can be fairly sure of a romantic comedy served with brain food.
Oran Mor, Glasgow, Mon 9–Sat 14 Mar; Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Tue 17–Sat 21 Mar