We live in nuclear crisis. The doomsday clock stands at two minutes to midnight, thanks to the “new abnormal” of emboldened autocrats, leaky security and political paralysis. This devolving state of nuclear security has left our world dangerously exposed; and yet we hardly feel it.
The nuclear paranoia of the late 20th Century, that Protect and Survive world of back-garden fallout shelters and government-issue body bags now shimmers with an unhealthy aura of simplicity and nostalgia, a gentler past, before climate change and internet trolls. How to jolt us into noticing the nuclear elephant in the room? Gameshow Theatre brings it home, makes it just another day at the office.
Nuclear Scientist Astrid (Leda Douglas) drawn to her job by the atomic romance of fission and fusion, is living in the fault lines of her career choices, presenting repetitively on the enormity of nuclear explosions, the human, technological, and physical effects. We flicker through time, action punctuated with hard strikes of noise, projections, absences. Astrid, fragmented and fragile, nuclear panic triggered by sirens and bomb scares, juggling motherhood and career, quivers uneasily around the absence of her child.
The timeline, collapsed, staccato, blown apart by the bomb, snaps from baby to schoolgirl to angry adolescent. Communication is unreliable; texts don’t come, phone calls go to message. Too often the drifts of modernity leave Astrid isolated with her harrowing and bewildering thoughts, presenting on obliteration zones and the effects of fallout on human flesh. This is not a nostalgic show. The concerns are current, and chilling in their mundanity. Keeping in touch with busy parents, commuter woes, risks of childhood, choosing between urban and rural life. Instead it looks to a future, 1, 10, 100 years hence when we may all be an isolated, gruesome smile disappearing into a fog of appalling fallout.