Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre, Glasgow, Tue 10 - Sat 14 Apr, then touring
Cabaret isn’t the first form of theatre you’d associate with Suspect Culture. For over a decade this outfit have produced among the most cerebral work seen in this country. But times are changing, and besides, artistic director Graham Eatough promises some brain food between all the razzmatazz.
In spite of the form, there’s more story to this piece than you might expect. Telling the tale of a mighty conference, incorporating everyone from scientists to politicians to mystics, it follows a single delegate, from a sinking Pacific island through this labyrinth of rhetoric. ‘It’s a conference about the future generally and climate change in particular,’ Eatough explains. Does cabaret seem the right form to tell the story? Well, yes: ‘Cabaret as a form has flourished immediately before catastrophic events. If you think of those high points of pre-First and pre-Second World War cabaret, it became some sort of outlet for people. Whether it’s a satire of politicians’ unwillingness to act, or a desire not to look too seriously at the future, it still seems relevant. It’s also about bodies in space performing before you, about sex and flesh, a very visceral and immediate art form. It’s the opposite of the conference, which is buttoned up and legitimised.’
Climate change seems to be the focus of the piece, four years in the making, and incorporating a wide array of Suspect Culture’s many international creative partners under one roof, which Eatough maintains gives a global perspective, as well as incorporating the broad range of theatre skills for cabaret. ‘When we started the show four years ago our political leaders were miles away from acknowledging it. Every briefing that came out of the White House was about discrediting the science of climate change. That’s completely changed now. Not that they’ve particularly acted on it.’