The Greenhouse Reviewed

Aug 14 2019 | By More

Federica Balbi on BoxedIn Theatre’s shows at The Greenhouse

Pleasance Pop-Up: Dynamic Earth: Fri 2 – Mon 26 Aug 2019
Review round-up by Federica Balbi

Whether it is comedy, musical, drama or dance, all the shows at the Greenhouse portray a particular face of environmentalism, and despite being very disparate they share some features.

The peculiarity of the venue shapes them in a way that brings the acting almost to its bones. One must not expect fireworks and deus ex machina, because there can be none in this small venue with no electricity.

The shows manage, for the most, to recreate the enchantment of theatre anyway, and their essence becomes the peculiar flavour they share.

A scene from Swallows. Pic BoxedIn Theatre

In The Earth Untold (1.15pm ★★★★☆), a big red box is at the centre of the stage. Every object in it contains a story, and the actors turn into captivating storytellers. They guide us far away in space and time, sliding from historical facts to science, myth, and to universal experience. Every story tells something about the planet we live on, and gives depth to the image we tend to have, flattened on our present. The narrative quality of the play is very enjoyable, the structure smartly planned and the acting involving, even if not yet perfect.

A very different play, and the most theoretical of all, From the Wind (production finished ★★☆☆☆) presents four points of view on the use of renewable energy in Scotland – on mainland Scotland as well as on the islands. A part of it is devoted to giving accurate socio-political background. There’s more to learn than to laugh about, but it has the occasional comic moment.

If From the Wind’s characters struggle to be greener, the protagonist in Daphne, or Hellfire (5.15pm ★★★☆☆), has very clear ideas. She is intimately, inevitably devoted to the cause of saving the environment, to the point that her lifestyle doesn’t fit into society any more. Her dramatic story is played with commitment and, even though some passages can be slow, it is a play with an impact.

personal link

Symbiosis (2.45pm ★★★☆☆) presents a personal link to nature as well, but through another language. It is the dance of a creature that belongs to nature more than she does to humanity. Poems tell a personal story, which is danced with intensity of feeling. A feeling that might take a little too long to turn into movement, but which takes off in some moments of beauty.

A scene from The Voices We Hear. Pic: BoxedIn Theatre

There is a good pace to Shellshock (3.45pm ★★★★☆) however. You can expect anything: plot twists are integral to this original musical, which criticises the hypocrisy of some companies which re-brand themselves as green. Hilarious and involving, Shellshock parodies famous songs and choreographies, while developing an improbable but amusing eco-plot.

Swallows (6.45pm ★★★★☆) is one of the venue’s most dramatic shows. Its protagonists are a couple of eco-terrorists in a shipping container, intimidating young both Tim as they wait to execute their mission. The breakdown of communication and escalation of violence create the strongest elements in both the script and the performances.

The Greenhouse was originally conceived as a structure that could host this performance; the space is indeed used in an interesting and very effective way for this complicated and poignant play that asks why violence among humans concerns us, while violence against nature doesn’t.

On the other hand, in Evaluation (12.15pm ★★★★☆) a machine is blaming one person for the crimes against nature perpetrated by the whole human kind. A girl is tied to a chair, connected to the machine, which talks with a recorded metallic voice. The dialogue is intense, perfectly apt for the show’s 30 minute running time, while the actress makes us strongly empathise with her.

A post-apocalyptic world is the setting of the last show of each day, The Voices We Hear (9.15pm ★★★★★). In the dim light of their destroyed lives, two of the few survivors exchange sorrowful memories through radio receivers and share moments of unexpected joy. A touching piece, very well written and intense, played with great skill and sensitivity.

Between 8 and 9 pm workshops alternate with music performances.

Listings and links

Pleasance Pop-Up: Dynamic Earth, The Greenhouse by BoxedIn Theatre Dynamic Earth, Holyrood Rd, Edinburgh EH8 8AS (Venue 378)

All shows run to Monday 26 August 2019. The venue has a rest day on Tuesdays.

Click on the name of the show, below, to go to its EdFringe listing.

Evaluation: 12.15pm (30 mins).
The Earth Untold 1.15pm (1 hour).
Symbiosis: 2.45pm (1 hour).
Shellshock: 3.45pm (1 hour).
Daphne, or Hellfire: 5.15pm (1  hour).
Swallows: 6.45pm (1 hour).
The Voices We Hear 9.15pm (30 mins).

Further information on the shows can be found on the venue website:


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