A schoolboy Google search when I got back after seeing Thank You For Your Patience almost floored me. The events described in the show are, perhaps from a few minute details, all true. But the play goes deeper than a mere exploration of nuclear waste. Beyond a detailed explanation of the whys and wherefores of having a permanent nuclear waste facility in Finland (of which some of the technical details were not a matter of personal interest, a talking point in itself afterwards), were a large number of pertinent questions about how this case study can be used and applied in our own lives.
The basics of the narrative are that somewhere in Finland, a nuclear waste facility has been constructed and is currently being filled. Once it has reached capacity at some point in the future, it will be sealed, and, at least in theory, left untouched for 100,000 years, apparently the length of time before nuclear waste loses its toxic properties such that it can be disposed of without harm to humans, plants or animals. The audience is either treated or subjected to a seemingly long discourse about what might happen if, for whatever reason, knowledge that the nuclear waste needs to be left alone wasn’t passed down from generation to generation.
The points put forward are all valid, I suppose, but there’s a danger of all this ‘what if’ talk spilling over into dystopian scaremongering. I would have countered it with something – anything – a tad more positive. ‘What if’, for example, some new detoxification process were invented so that nuclear waste could be processed in a similar way to water going through sewage treatment works? To be fair, there was some humour later on in the details of some of the zanier ideas that were brainstormed by Finnish scientists, nicely counter-balancing the darker moments.
Anyway, the massive underground bunker is used in the show as a symbol of leaving the past behind, sealing it up and never touching it again, as though it didn’t exist. I wasn’t, I must admit, entirely convinced by the line of argument. Just because I have no recollection of what I had for lunch last Tuesday, this does not mean last Tuesday’s lunch didn’t happen.
The live sound (Rob Morton), accompanying very nearly everything Hector said, was helpful at times, and a tad irritating in others. Not all of it, to be blunt, was strictly necessary. Hector himself, for the most part, had an easy-going nature, establishing a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere early on. (Why don’t more shows do a simple ‘hello and welcome’?) The rapport remains solid to the end. A large number of scene changes allowed for variations in pace and tempo in a perfectly synced performance.
A good mixture of engaging storytelling and some inventive use of distinctly low-tech props combine to furnish the audience with a brief but intriguing show.
Review by Chris Omaweng
EDINBURGH PREVIEW In Onkalo, Finland, nuclear waste is being buried to break down over 100,000 years. What message could ever communicate such a warning to future generations? Performed alongside a live soundscape, Thank You For Your Patience explores how we pass on danger, how we protect one another from curiosity, and whether memories can ever be buried. Performed by Hector Dyer, sound by Rob Morton and directed by Georgie Staight.
Thank you for your patience
19 July, 7.30pm; 26th & 27th July, 9pm