What would you do to save an endangered species? Recycle more? Downsize your range rover to a smartcar? Switch to solar power? What about get into bed with big coal? Extinction takes the issues of climate change and its effects, namely the extinction and endagering of species and puts it to the front of your mind.
Dr Piper Ross (Hannah Day) is a research assistant from the USA assigned to work on koalas in Australia. She has extremely strong convictions regarding the plight of animals, especially endangered Australian specimens. Her lover, Andy Dixon (Myles Pollard) also believes strongly in preserving the environment and our natural resources. When Piper meets Harry Jewel (Matt Dytinsky) on a rainy night after he hits an endangered tiger quoll with his range rover, her morals are called into question. Piper and Andy’s sister, Heather, (Sarah McNeill) the head of her university project are both charmed by Harry who turns out to be the CEO of a mining company. When they agree to a project funded by him, tensions run high as all the characters are forced to question where they draw the line in the sand.
Extinction brings all of these issues to the fore but takes the focus off of communities and places it squarely onto the relationships and tensions found in the family unit. The award-winning playwright, Hannie Rayson is the master of relationships. She interweaves the big themes and questions of the day (like climate change and death) and gives them a believable metaphor within the common squabbles and nuances of four people who not only share blood, but also love, passion and commitment either to each other – or the community. Loyalties shift and change, power plays are formed and love is bandied around as the quartet duck and weave with each other.
The sets are beautifully simple, keeping the focus on the characters rather than the glitz of the theatre. Each scene reads like a chapter unfolding in a mystery novel – usually characters are one on one, though sometimes all four of them are onstage, providing a feeling of secrecy, conspiracy, confidence and intimacy. All of the actors are phenomenal, though a special mention must go to Matt Dytynski, who is able not only to charm his fellow actors but the audience also.
Extinction is the perfect mix of family tension, drama and comedy. It will make you wonder if you’re doing enough. You will contemplate how you feel about life and death, and you will leave with a smile on your face.
Extinction is presented by The Black Swan Theatre Company and is playing at The Heath Ledger Theatre, State Theatre Centre of Western Australia from 19th September – 4th October 2015.