Landscape (1989) - Edinburgh Fringe

Landscape (1989) - Edinburgh Fringe

Landscape (1989) is, in a word, beguiling. Fervent, at times beautifully incomprehensible but deftly and compellingly delivered by Clara Potter-Sweet and Ben Kulvichit, it is a slow and steady text, movement and mushroom-based meditation on the encroach of climate change and its impact on human history.

Oregon National Park is (loosely) the setting, the focus being on the thousand-year old fungal organism that grows beneath the forest - Armillaria ostoyae - the largest living organism on earth. It survives the ebb and flow of the piece, a recurring motif to remind us of the resilience of nature. At the outset of the play, 1989 is a year in which massive historical change supposedly brought an end to human history – yet still the fungus grows. At the show’s close, hikers through what we learn is some post-apocalyptic vision of the park, now charred and dead, can still find mushrooms to cook and eat (which they do, onstage, and they smell delicious).

It feels frighteningly pertinent to watch this piece on the day social media feeds are full of footage of the Amazon burning, and the slow appetite of doom in Landscape (1989) crawls along with the same heat. Cut through with hypnotic dance movement sequences in which the Potter-Sweet and Kulvichit fall in and out of synchronisation with each other, and a mesmerising vision of the earth cooking like a plate of mushrooms in a microwave, it roots itself within you for a long time after the lights have gone down. Something about the piece serves as the antithesis of fact and information based environmental campaign – Landscape (1989) is about the way this impending disaster feels: intimate and close to home.

Eden Peppercorn