Fracked – Theatre Royal Bath

This dark, satirical comedy by Alistair Beaton is an interesting examination of “Fracking” and its impact on communities whilst PR specialists weave tales and false truths to hide the real story. It is fiercely anti – fracking in its approach and the information is clearly well researched; given that this is a comedy and is not a didactic piece of writing the unbalanced view does not affect the great energy and wit streaming from this new play.

Set in the fictional village of Fernstock, Elizabeth a retired professor of medieval history moves slowly from a letter writing activist to full on demonstrator to ensure that the drilling stays away and the village retains its rural sanity. However, she is up against the brutal, savvy PR Company who railroads messages and bends facts in order to get the job done. For anyone who has been involved in any local council issues, the corruption, lies, commitment and desperation is real and pertinent.

Anne Reid is excellent as Elizabeth; a woman of integrity and truth who takes on the big guns to protect the countryside and stand up for the rural community. Harry Hadden-Paton is the devil in disguise as the corrupt, suave and manipulative PR consultant. It is hard not to enjoy his encounter with bull a little more than we should, but he is a wonderfully distilled creation.

Not all characters are as detailed, the dialogue is rapid and the inclusion of current affairs reflects an ever changing script. This is essentially fun but the underlying message is never far from the surface.

This is a good environmental drama, there is much to be learnt from the material and it is executed in a way that ensures a good night out with a fine production.



Petra Schofield