“When the Dove Returns”

Last week, Backpack Theatre put on their latest show “When the Dove Returns” at the Blue Elephant Theatre from 28 March to 1 April.

unnamed-2Almost like a sinister Noah’s Ark, the show was about six survivors on a boat during a flood brought about by humans’ carelessness toward global warming.

Although creative and whimsical, the show used carefully chosen details to present the situation as probable, even inevitable. For example, the show began with actual radio clips from scientists intermingled with clips of climate change’s most notorious deniers. Throughout the show, the characters would share anecdotes of their lives before the flood. One female character laughed nostalgically about stories her mom used to tell her of exotic fruits like bananas, or when giraffes used to exist.

The show’s message was clear: it was a “call-to-arms piece about the long-term effects of our carelessness and greed.”

EnsembleBackpack Theatre is a fairly-new London theatre company with multicultural and international members. A young group, they are socially aware and focus their talents on telling “stories that aim to encourage audiences to develop their own opinions on current issues.”

While communicating their message is important to them, Backpack Theatre believes it is “equally important to inspire [their] audiences by entertaining them” with what they call a “unique mix” of comedy along with the hard facts that shape their storytelling.  

These values were definitely communicated through “When the Dove Returns.” It was well-acted and well directed, with creative staging decisions. The company took risks to tell this story with the force and in the manner they did, and it worked.

Duncan RendallThe Blue Elephant Theatre’s black-box theatre is the perfect venue for shows such as this. The stage was covered by a plastic tarp, which underwent a lot of damage throughout the show: water, fake yet believable toilet-bucket contents, food scraps, dance parties and murder.

The show was not overly dramatic––as it could have been with a disaster premise––but effectively made light of the situation through well needed comic relief and dark humor. The realness of the premise would have been hard to swallow otherwise.

Up next at the Blue Elephant Theatre is a performance of dance pieces “there is nothing more public than privacy” and “The Goddess of Chocolate” on Thursday, 6 April.

Keep up with Backpack Theatre on their blog and Twitter to find out what’s next.

*Images by Brittany Stillwell, who also designed the set.

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