A Play for the Living in a Time of Extinction is a life-affirming pedal-powered production on climate crisis

In an era defined by the looming threat of climate change and the loss of biodiversity, A Play for the Living in a Time of Extinction sparks conversation and consideration in a thought-provoking theatre production unlike any other.

Written and directed by Miranda Rose Hall, the show explores the urgency of our environmental crisis while weaving together powerful narratives that resonate with audiences on a deeply emotional level.

Rather than being set in the round, as is the norm at Newcastle’s New Vic, A Play for the Living is a directional production, with a set that features little more than a projector screen and a handful of lights. And in a sustainability-first approach, the production moves off-grid to integrate a bike-powered electricity system, with four local cyclists powering the whole set by pedal in real-time.

Andrew Billington

Danielle Henry takes on the relatable, matey character of Naomi, who’s dialogue is masterfully written, blending poetic spoken word rhythm with raw human emotion in a way that is part ritual, part battle cry. 

Henry talks of how she feels utterly consumed by the fear of death through mass extinction, describing her horror of the little brown bats being wiped out, and her dismay at the loss of species in her lifetime, reading out the names of a series of plants and animals recently extinct or nearing extinction as they are shown on the screen.

Her words act as a catalyst, igniting a fire within the hearts of the audience, challenging conventional thinking and forcing us to confront the uncomfortable truths about our own complicity in the destruction of the planet. 

Andrew Billington

It could very easily be a bleak and miserable event, but Henry brings just the right amount of humour, charm and chattiness for it to land and really captivate the audience.in a way that is really effective.

Henry’s role of Naomi is an exaggerated one, embodying the anxieties, fear and hopes that society navigates amid the impending extinction of countless species. Naomi is the trauma at our core carried through centuries of human existence. 

The play’s strength lies in its ability to interweave personal stories with global issues, with members of the audience invited to participate through actions and anecdotes. 

Despite the weightiness of its subject matter, A Play for the Living in a Time of Extinction also finds moments of beauty, hope, and connection with glimpses of human resilience, acts of solidarity, and the power of collective action, serving as a reminder that we still have the ability to make a positive impact on our planet.

Andrew Billington

The production’s sound and lighting design is simple but skillful, the dim lighting and cycles almost resembling one of those fancy overpriced spinning classes at a boutique fitness centre is paired with ambient soundscapes that have an overwhelming feeling of dread and urgency, before being joined by the haunting melodies of New Vic Community Choir to close the show.

A Play for the Living in a Time of Extinction is an essential piece of theatre that serves as a life-affirming wake-up call, raising essential questions about our responsibility as inhabitants of the Earth and demands introspection and action to confront the urgent ecological disaster that is unfolding around us. A timely and powerful production, it ignites much-needed conversation through a combination of compelling performances, evocative set design, and poignant storytelling, and leaves audiences feeling fired up to be part of the change.

A Play for the Living in a Time of Extinction is on at the New Vic Theatre until Saturday, June 24.

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