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Oh, My Green Soapbox

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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Oh, My Green Soapbox is a one-woman comedy, written and performed by Lucy Foster, which seeks to explore "how the desire to love the planet and love another human being can sometimes become confused". The central unnamed but possibly autobiographical figure has a passion to change the world, doesn't really know how to go about it, then finds that she is easily distracted from her goal when a man intrudes briefly into her life.

Set in a bare black box, cleverly using just a few chairs, bed linen and a projector, the play seeks to evoke the polar expanse and the gradual loss of that world due to global warming. Our protagonist is shown on film taking to the streets in a cheap polar bear costume in an attempt to raise the public consciousness about the damage being done to the bears' environment. The public remain largely unimpressed, being more interested in whether her costume actually represents a bear or a mouse.

As the story struggles with the conflict between the personal and the global, the play itself suffers from not quite knowing whether it's supposed to be funny or serious. There are some droll laughs to be had, but not enough to warrant the play’s description as a comedy. Other scenes are intense and dramatic though there is a lack of overall flow, which detracts from the message. The result is a bit of a mish-mash of ideas that don't quite gel. This performance was also unfortunately marred by technical problems which meant that a scene involving a member of the audience - which has the potential to be very funny - was largely inaudible.

Despite these problems, this is a piece packed with ideas which put the focus on an important topical issue. The final scene is quite brilliantly evoked. Oh, My Green Soapbox won First Prize at the 100 degree Festival at Sophiensaele, Berlin in 2008, and Lucy Foster is undoubtedly a writer and performer to watch.

- Carole Gordon


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