20 February 2009

Greenwash at the Orange Tree

Greenwash takes place on one evening in New York sometime during George W Bush's second term. A small group of people are brought together for Charlie's intervention, i.e. a meeting aimed at helping him with his alcohol problem.

But things do not go to plan and almost the only time that Charlie's alcoholism features in the play is when he drinks out of a child's breaker with the word "Charlie" on it (why he arrived as a clown is almost irrelevant too).

One of the main themes of the play is the way that large corporations, particularly oil companies, use Public Relations to subtly change the way that the public things about key issues, e.g. "global warming" becomes "climate change".

Other themes that are explored include dead relationships, baldness, the war on terrorism, Barbie dolls, politics, food and obsessive behaviour. The vehicle for carrying these themes is pure and simple farce and the play is a hoot throughout. For example, some of the biggest laughs came at the expense of the Barbie doll that had been reprogrammed to speak like G.I. Joe. and from Charlie's inappropriate clown outfit.

Somehow the major political themes work well in the farce fabric and are a very important part of the play. The politics is usually presented in heated and loud arguments between the PR executive, liberal journalist, political power-broker and environmental activist; and these arguments are not always made by the people that you would expect to make them.

I do not think that I would have believed it myself but the mix of high farce and high politics really does work and it makes the play an effective entertainment on several levels.

As usual, the Orange Tree itself adds to the play by being in the round and so bringing you much closer to the action and to the cast who, also as usual, more than play their part.

It is because the Orange Tree keep putting shows like this on that I keep going.

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