Normally at The Handbook, we like to cover and recommend upbeat, fun musicals and shows when it comes to theatre. However, a good drama is always welcome, especially if its got an important message behind it.

One such drama we’re intrigued by is a Lithuanian opera about climate change, which is coming to London next year as part of the London International Festival of Theatre, or LIFT. It’s the first show that’s been announced for the festival, which is a biennial event and hasn’t taken place since 2018. The opera’s all female creative team received the prestigious Golden Lion award from the 2019 Venice Biennale arts exhibition.

The show will staged at The Albany arts centre in Deptford, on an artificial indoor beach. The durational work will unfold on a loop over several hours, with audiences watching from a balcony looking down on the performance. What will initially appear to be a normal day at the beach will soon begin to become more and more disturbing.

The piece is 60 minutes long, becoming more surreal and sinister before it loops and plays again, which is meant to demonstrate our repeated destructive nature when it comes to the planet and its ecosystem. As you might guess, since it’s an opera, the whole thing is sung through, in both solo arias and group harmonies.

The description of the show on LIFT’s website is as follows: “A crowded beach, the burning sun, bright bathing suits and sweaty palms and legs. Tired limbs sprawling lazily across a sea of towels. The rumble of a volcano, or of an airplane, or a speedboat. The squeal of children, laughter, the sound of an ice cream van in the distance. Sunbathers sing languid songs of worry, of boredom, of almost nothing.”

Since it's an opera, the whole thing is sung through...

Songs of early morning flights and half-eaten sandwiches in the sand, the crinkling of plastic bags whirling in the air then floating silently, jellyfish-like below the waterline. Stories that glide between the mundane, the sinister and the surreal. Witness from above as an afternoon at the beach reveals a mesmerising exploration of the relationship between us and our planet.”

The show's premise is an intriguing and prescient one...

The show’s premise is an intriguing and prescient one, and one which will feel more relevant in 2022 given the events of the past few years and COP 26 being in recent memory. Sun and Sea sounds like it’ll be dark, surreal and rather depressing, and more of a performance art piece than what’s on in the West End, but it’s proved hugely popular at the venues it’s been performed at, and become a small Instagram sensation.


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