Right, somebody said, it’s high time we sat down and wrote a play about climate change. Greenland is the heavily "curated" (by Ben Power) result, and it’s skilful, enjoyable in odd moments and strikingly staged on a vast, empty Lyttelton stage by Bijan Sheibani.
But it’s dead at the centre and therefore dead in the water. Four playwrights have been dragooned into supplying interwoven narratives, and you couldn’t possibly tell, or care much, whether Moira Buffini, Matt Charman, Penelope Skinner or Jack Thorne had written this bit or that.
There was a 1988 play of the same title by Howard Brenton in which a group of characters jump into the Thames and find them washed up in Utopia seven hundred years hence; it was wacky but imaginative, and inherently theatrical.
Here, there’s something glumly predictable about the relationship between a (female) Labour politician and a (male) climate change expert at the Copenhagen conference, and there’s a strict limit on how excited one can be in a theatre about green house gas emissions.
Admittedly there’s some sharp writing (and playing) in the confrontations of two representative youngsters – an embryonic eco-warrior flying around in a supermarket trolley; a clever lad from Walthamstow sold on geography as a subject — and their inquisitive parental and authority figures.
There are even a couple of dance ensemble items reminiscent of the staging in Enron, and a wonderful polar bear, looking a bit unhappy (a bipolar bear?), who seems to lumber into view from his own hologram.
But, honestly, where do you go with lines such as, “I met my husband during the Kyoto Protocol,” or “Capital is running Capitol Hill.” And Bunny Christie’s design, beautifully lit by Jon Clark, supplies snowflakes and rain effects that are stunning; you almost think it was worth enlarging your carbon footprint to drive to the theatre to see them.