Reviews Exeter Published 26 September 2014

Pete the Temp vs Climate Change

Bike Shed Theatre ⋄ 24th September and touring

Art-activism.

Belinda Dillon

A giant extended party, a massive blow-out, at which every whim is indulged, every desire satisfied: fireworks to the left, laser light shows to the right, a towering illuminated helter-skelter; so much food and drink that much of it gets stamped into the floor, unconsumed, as revellers whirl around in a frenzy of over-stimulated abandon. 
 
Imagine the morning after. Imagine the detritus, the damage. 
 
You don’t have to imagine, because this is where we are, in the post-party gut-ache of the global capitalist orgy – and it’s a mess. 
 
It’s one of the first analogies that poet Pete Bearder employs in his art-activism show Pete the Temp vs Climate Change, which documents his attempts to slap us awake to the disaster on our doorstep. Part lecture, part performance, the show uses animation, music, film and photography to reinforce the messages in Pete’s thoughtful, affecting poems: the toll Western over-consumption takes on the developing world, the thousands of pensioners dying from fuel poverty in Britain every year, the politics of the food on your plate. 
 
He delivers cold, hard facts about what your microwave, your car and your clamour for the latest iPhone are actually costing the planet, costing all of us, some more directly than others – mainly those in places far away enough for you not to notice, places that capitalism can exploit in your name.
 
And it’s depressing and disheartening and downright fury-inducing – but it’s not didactic, and it is funny, because Pete is charming and intelligent and honest. He’s not judgmental about the casual, thoughtless choices we make – he knows that we live inside the machine, cosseted by the benefits it offers us; that the problem seems so massive that we can’t contemplate how we might fix it. So we turn away. It’s how capitalism has survived for so long.
 
But, he insists – gently, with a smile – that it’s about more than washing at 40 degrees and swapping your lightbulbs; it’s a complete paradigm shift, in thought and behaviour, and it’s about continually questioning what’s being done in your name, calling it out and saying no, and reinforcing your ideals with your actions – who you vote for, where you shop, where you bank. 
 
Pete delivers his poems with authority, and although some of the other sections suffer a surfeit or ‘ur’ and ‘um’, the piece is powerfully moving. The finale is particularly strong, during which audio of David Cameron decrying the behaviour of participants in the 2011 riots is juxtaposed with images of the devastation caused by rampant global capitalism and the concomitant effects of global warming. As Cameron vows to punish those who have ‘looted … damaged property … stripped innocent people of their livelihoods…’, we see floods and droughts, fish choking in polluted gloop, animals driven to extinction by the destruction of habitat, people unable to feed themselves from land rendered toxic or empty.
 
It’s heart-breaking, and it’s terrifying, because this is it, the thing we need to all focus on; otherwise, frankly, we’re fucked. Until we understand that you are me, and I am you, and we are also the people who are yet to be born, we’re lost; it’s going to take all of us getting involved, resisting, for any of us to have a future. 

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Belinda Dillon

Originally from London, Belinda is an editor and writer now living in Exeter. She goes to as much theatre as the day job will allow. When not sitting in the dark, or writing about sitting in the dark, she likes to drink wine, read 19th-century novels and practice taxidermy. Your cat is very beautiful. Is it old?

Pete the Temp vs Climate Change Show Info


Produced by Renaissance One

Written by Pete Bearder

Cast includes Pete Bearder

Link http://www.bikeshedtheatre.co.uk/

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