Fallout: The Sinking of the Rainbow Warrior depicts an incident that rallied a nation. In July 1985 Greenpeace’s peace-loving vessel was bombed and sunk in an attempt to silence her protests against nuclear testing. Fallout reflects on the national response to this terrorism through various monologues from characters involved in the event itself, and its investigation.
When the opportunity was given for What’s Good to attend and review Fallout, I immediately raised my hand. As a self-professed history fanatic and someone who has personally dived the wreck, it seemed like the kind of show that was right up my alley. Alas, despite my initial enthusiasm, when opening night rolled around I found my previous gusto was lacking. While I definitely wanted to have seen Fallout, I wasn’t feeling particularly enthused about actually viewing it. I mean lets be honest, a show about a historical event doesn’t sound super engaging.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
In front of a backdrop of screens that continually present powerful found images throughout the show, Fallout opens with a devastating speech from the extremely captivating Kerry Warkia, representing a member of Rongelap Atoll – a Pacific Island affected by the nuclear testing at this time. Following Warkia, other characters step forward, each delivering anecdotes about their experiences with the both glorious, and sunken, Rainbow Warrior. These anecdotes relay to the audience not only the details of the event as a whole, but also the emotional human experiences intertwined with it. Alongside this emotional engagement is a comedic presentation of a number of everyday quintessential Kiwi characters. From the chirpy server at the local dairy, to the nosy caravan park owner, Fallout uses characters that undoubtedly feature in the audiences personal lives to show the vast impact and interest the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior held. A highlight of the show, and the actor who achieved the most comedic success, was Fasitua Amosa, who delighted audiences with his varying portrayals of a classic Northlander bloke to a curious and dependant husband. Toby Leach and Luanne Gordon also offered worthy performances, with the latter suffering from a slightly distracting use of hands movements.
I walked into The Basement expecting to be educated but not engaged. However I came of the venue with a different view entirely. Enchanting and educational, Fallout achieves an unexpected feat with its portrayal of the events of 1985. Rather than simply presenting the facts of the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior and its investigation, Fallout goes one step further, also using the stories of everyday characters to provoke the audience into truly feeling the impact of both the Warriors death, and the nuclear testing that provoked it in the first place. Despite failing to fully educate its audience on the current location of the Rainbow Warrior – sunken up North in the Bay of Islands as a memorial dive – Fallout ultimately provides both an informative resource to every New Zealander wishing to either learn about or remember this nation-identifying event, and a memorable original piece of drama to general theatre enthusiasts.
Playing until Saturday 30th May at The Basement Theatre, tickets for Fallout: The Sinking of the Rainbow Warrior are available here.