Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre until Sat 28 Apr, then touring
For all the obvious advantages of a long preparation time for a piece of theatre, there may in fact, be drawbacks. Times change, and attitudes with them. So perhaps the reason why Suspect Culture’s long-awaited NTS-produced piece doesn’t work is that they were plainly forced to change horses in midstream. Originally intended as a schmaltzy pastiche about the politics of fear, where all the anxieties promoted by governments and corporations are seen as groundless there was no doubt a problem when the primary fear - global warming - proved to be an inescapable scientific fact.
Perhaps the uncertainty of tone that rather undermines this satirical cabaret comes from this alteration of circumstance. In the piece, a bumbling holy innocent from the Sandwich Islands (Angela de Castro) arrives at a mighty conference of the great and good of all nations in order to address the issue of her sinking homeland. She finds herself in a bizarre netherworld at a luxury hotel whose manager (Grant Smeaton) proves to be the local mayor. He increasingly fails to control a workers revolution in his corporation-owned industrial town. Meanwhile, the many delegates fiddle while Rome, er, sinks.
The cabaret is at times very pleasing, with a big, sexy, all singing and dancing performance from Maria Victoria De Pace among the highlights, but in between there are various turns of self consciously un-PC humour that simply aren’t funny. While Graham Eatough’s production thrashes out left and right, occasionally scoring hits against globalisation, there’s a general lack of direction and focus which traduces the piece’s theatrical dynamic. There are strong supporting performances from Smeaton and Morag Stark, those ever reliable Arches stalwarts, but no one can quite do enough to save the piece from its own incoherency.