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The Heretic

Palaeogeophysics and geodynamics university lecturer Diane doesn’t believe that the icecaps are melting, but that doesn’t prevent her from enlisting the help of a cute toy polar bear called Maureen in Richard Bean’s over-plotted but very funny new climate change play, the third to open on this topic within less than a fortnight, and the second to feature this iconic symbol of global warming. Bean is as much concerned with the duty of scientists to put truth before career progression as with whether the world really is heating up.

The future of the department is at risk, and head of Earth Sciences Kevin (who had a brief affair with Diane many years ago) wants her to delay publication of her controversial findings until a financially advantageous deal has been secured. Not only that, but her daughter, Phoebe (Lydia Wilson) is dangerously anorexic, and Diane herself is receiving mysterious death threats.

It makes for a highly amusing and entertaining evening – even if not all the characters (or twist of the plot) ring true. Bean writes with wit and intelligence, and Juliet Stevenson’s Diane is totally credible, both as sceptical academic and worried mother. James Fleet’s Kevin (his wishy-washy manner belying a steely resolve when it comes to saving his faculty) is the epitome of a seemingly ineffectual professor, Adrian Hood gets laughs as a security man with useful connections everywhere and Johnny Flynn’s self-harming undergrad wears his carbon emission concerns on his sleeve, spouting his convictions with an inarticulate awkwardness which troubled Phoebe finds irresistible.


Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square, SW1W 8AS
Tube: Sloane Square
020 7565 5000
Until 19th March

- Louise Kingsley


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