Seed Bomb | subtlenuance & Old 505 FreshWorks

Image by Matthew Abotomey

Catastrophic climate change is an inevitable reality and we’ve been biding our time for decades. Some people in society choose denial and avoidance and others, like the guerrilla gardeners, are choosing revolution. When Kat stumbles into their plans, they plant the seed for her to change her life.

Kat (Sonya Kerr) needs advice from a financial expert (Lindsey Chapman) because she and her partner Toby (Julian Ramundi) want to buy a property. They encounter two problems: they don’t have enough money and they can’t agree on the fundamentals of their future, city or country. It’s a tired argument of traffic and pollution vs veggie gardens and clean living ala the tiny house craze. Writer Daniela Giorgi fleshes out environmental arguments with more depth and details in the characters of Pax (Matthew Abotomey) and Gridlock (Kate Bookallil) who are fighting to find a middle ground between violent resistance and peaceful protest. Seed bombing is their action of choice; throwing seeds into empty lots and creating natural beauty in urban ugliness.

Giorgi’s new script posing the concerns of climate change and the means of combating the inevitable on two different levels to match the audience’s point of reference. From denial to individual saviour mentality to the subtle influence of beauty to violence and aggression, Giorgi presents a spectrum of possible attitudes and invites a shift in thinking towards actionable solutions. However, concluding an exploration of climate change with a death undermines the terms of rest of the production and simplifies the stakes heavy-handedly.

Direction from Paul Gilchrist plays into the dire tone of the harsh scientific facts and amps up the absurdity and comic characterisation. Chapman as the slightly unhinged financial advisor Pru who deeply believes in the power of visualisation is a hilarious caricature of the financial status quo in Sydney, especially in her physicality. Abotomey and Bookallil also give stand out performances with a humility, even in their ravings about consumerism, and a touching genuine connection that humanises the extremities of personality in this production. Gridlock is quick and fiery with a shadowy backstory that quietly complicates her characterisation while Pax balances gentleness with powerful conviction. Abotomey and Bookallil bring wonderful depth and nuance to the characters’ relationship on personal and political levels.

The set design from subtlenuance literally represents the outcome of the guerrilla gardeners’ reclamation of urban spaces, turning a family barren lot of chain link fences and cinder blocks into a garden. Serving as a memorial garden, the space of the play’s closing could be any piece of natural beauty or community space recognisable to the audience. It’s here where the production swerves with the most commitment into didacticism when the characters address the audience directly but it also serves as the end of their personal and argumentative arcs.

Seed Bomb is a play for 2019 Sydney posing arguments and explanations for immediate action against climate change by humanising the varying attitudes to the facts. Through some genuine performances and comedic direction, Giorgi’s is decidedly about the here and now and the impact of our decisions on our future.

Seed Bomb is running at the Old 505 from March 5th – 9th

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