Set on a private jet, heading to the climate conference COP26 in Glasgow: Oil Baron James Johnson with his employee and daughter are forced to share the plane with eccentric actor and activist Amodius Vassano and his personal manager. After take-off, they find out that this and other planes have been hijacked by a group of radical environmental activists and they are being held hostage, only to survive if Johnson confesses to his crimes.
‘Crash and Burn’, a new play written by Will Leckie, who also plays Amodius Vassano, aims to be a political comedy that wants to ask the question of how far activism can or should go. Whilst this is a great premise, although an unoriginal idea, the execution of it was rather poor.
The play lacks structure, trying to tackle too many topics at once and therefore ending up all over the place. There were a lot of big words being thrown around, however the message – if there was one -was not clear at all. Whilst the actors were clearly all skilled, most characters were interesting and quirky at first, but ended up being very one-note stereotypical versions of the kind of people they aim to criticize. There was a lot of overacting which could have fit into a comedy, but despite comedic moments here and there, ‘Crash and Burn’ cannot be considered one. The actors were also portraying their characters in such varying degrees of caricature, that it sometimes felt as though they weren’t in the same play at all. However, a shout-out has to be given to Nick Gill, who gives a stellar performance as oil baron Joseph Johnson. His stage presence and characterisation are fantastic and he’s so believable that it is genuinely difficult to watch at times.
With a cast of unlikeable characters, ‘Crash and Burn’ criticises everything and everyone without giving any solutions. As important as it is to make art about the climate crisis, when there is no clear intention behind the play, no new information to be learned, no hope being provided and no message to be taken away, it might just be a waste of everyone’s time.
Reviewer: Christina Schmidt
Reviewed: 15th August 2023
North West End UK Rating: