2071: Rapley’s Rap

The Chris Rapley / Duncan Macmillan doomfest “2071” is on at the Royal Court. I’ll try and do what Alex Cull and I did with Stephen Emmott’s “Ten Billion” and glean the maximum number of howlers from reviews. Please add anything in comments because I’ll be out of action for the next few days.

As with “Ten Billion”, there’s no text available, Rapley and Emmott apparently agreeing with mediaeval churchmen that it’s best the plebs don’t have direct access to the Word.

Two points from Michael Billington’s review in the Guardian:

… he tells us that “we are the first human beings to breathe this level of carbon dioxide..”

Well, yes, up from 0.025% to 0.03%. Suffocating, isn’t it.

…And, in a clear rebuke to climate-change deniers, he warns: ‘All the warming that is occurring is due to us.’”

Really? Has he told the IPCC?

The reviews I’ve seen are slightly less enthusiastic than the ones that greeted “Ten Billion” two years ago. Since that can hardly be due to Stephen Emmott’s superior dramatic skills, it may perhaps signal a change of mood in public opinion. Here’ for instance, is the review in What’s On Stage, (thanks to Paul Matthews)


2071 is one of the most outrageously anti-theatrical events I’ve ever attended. Auditions must have gone on for weeks to find the most boring and incompetent speaker in the world – Professor Chris Rapley CBE, professor of climate change at University College, London – and the Court’s costume department despatched to study the dress code of middle-aged theatre critics; they’ve come up with a nifty looking maroon jumper, tweedy jacket and cheap shoes combo that makes it impossible to confuse the prof with anyone resembling a proper actor, or a tramp in Beckett, or even an eccentric sci-fi boffin.

Katie Mitchell has declared in an interview that she’s not going to buy any more new clothes in order to save the world, and the prof has obviously followed suit (sic). He stands on the stage, inert and microphoned – the talking clock is Judi Dench in comparison – and drones on about oxidisation while the stage behind him, designed by Chloe Lamford, with video by Luke Halls, changes constantly like a kaleidoscope, or a weather forecast of swirling high pressure, galactic upheaval and scary looking sea monsters.

The one positive thing the prof says we can do – apart from set up home in a cardboard box with no lights or running water (it would make the cardboard soggy, you see) – is pray that our grandchildren will become missionary engineers and slow down the process of self-elimination. The prof almost showed a flicker of emotion at this idea, but stopped himself just in time.

Rapley has co-written the 70-minute show (excuse the hyperbole) with Duncan Macmillan. Had it been more interestingly presented, it could have amounted to the starkest message on a stick ever mounted at the Royal Court. Instead, it’s probably the worst play ever seen on that hallowed stage, convincing you that the world can’t end quickly enough if this is all we can expect from the so-called home of new writing.

About Geoff Chambers

Retired illustrator (children's magazines, religious education textbooks, an Encyclopaedia of Christianity, gay contact and female fitness magazines, pornographic strip cartoons etc.) Retired lecturer in English and History of Art in a French University; ardent blogger on climate hysteria, banned five times from the Guardian and twice from the Conversation. Now blogging at Cliscep.com
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8 Responses to 2071: Rapley’s Rap

  1. TinyCO2 says:

    “The End Of The World As We Know It sounds like it should make for a gripping bit of theatre, unfortunately this talk is seriously short on shock and awe. ”

    “2071 commits the cardinal sin of theatre: it’s boring. We counted at least three people asleep before the play was half-way through. And there’s really no excuse for that when the subject is filled with so much inherent drama. From the forced migrations of indigenous people to the fossil fuel divestment movement, there’s more than enough inspiration, moral complexity and heartbreak to make a good play.”


    Stu Black wants the play to have a bit of Al Gore style melodrama but perhaps even Chris Rapley was too much of a scientist to embellish the facts enough to liven up his lecture. Unfortunately for Rapley, there is nothing the scientists can say that Hollywood hasn’t done bigger and better. After category six tornados, an ice age and the Statue of Liberty floating away, anything an old man in a tweed suit has to say will be an anticlimax. They started out by treating the public as children who needed a very simple message. They now find themselves having to introduce subtlty to an audience that demands the science equivalent of Grand Theft Auto

  2. Your mileage may well vary, Geoff (as may that of others). It seems to me, however, that in the last year or so, these advocacy-driven “scientists” (and/or facsimiles thereof) are desperately seeking some magic modes/words/slogans – or whatever – that will restore them to (for all their intents and purposes) a prior “status” (circa 2000 give or take a few years) as virtually unchallenged “experts” whose words of wisdom we must all take as gospel truth.

    When it comes to “slow learners”, it seems to me that there are none so slow as those who continue to bask in the ill-gotten (Nobel?!) glory of the IPCC and/or its ever-expanding “parent’, the UNEP.

    Not to mention those who have yet to awaken from the UNFCCC’s post-Copenhagen “coma“.

  3. J S says:

    Geoff, when you get round to writing ‘CO2 – The Musical’, surely there will be scope for a cameo appearance of a Rapley-like character doing a Powerpoint Rap. Gilbert and Sullivan would have had a field day, and some of your writing, esp. Apocalypse Close, makes me think you are having one too. Long may it continue!

  4. Dodgy Geezer says:

    …“… he tells us that “we are the first human beings to breathe this level of carbon dioxide..”
    Well, yes, up from 0.025% to 0.03%. Suffocating, isn’t it.

    I think that several people have pointed out that the typical ventilated classroom runs at about 1000 ppm CO2. Almost certainly humans have been breathing around 5000 ppm CO2 at some point in the day ever since they invented houses…

  5. Pingback: Chris Rapley: When Bureaucrats Pose as Climate Scientists | Big Picture News, Informed Analysis

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