Benjamin Davis’s Silverland takes place in a dark future, “a year early in the 21st century,” when England is afflicted with bad weather. My God, it’s happening already! But in this Brits Off-Broadway offering at 59E59, Davis’s Britain suffers not from pea-soupers and infinite drizzle, but from blazing droughts and storm surges that threaten London. Artist Ellen (Sophie Hunter) muses that soon “our green island will be engulfed by the silver sea.” In this near-dystopia, six Brits—well, one might actually be a goddess and thus nationless—struggle to live, love, and acquire sufficient bottled water.
The eco-drama begins at a New Year’s rave that all the characters attend, then follows three pairs of characters: two Blake-quoting stoners; an artist and a banker; and the banker’s boss, who pursues a Nubian pole dancer/potential goddess. (Have bankers always attended raves?) Relying on light, sound, and some occasionally silly movement work, director Di Trevis ably distinguishes between past and future, flipping back to the rave and forward to the various narratives.
Self-serious and naive in its environmentalist alarms, Silverland never plumps for the poetic, the comic, or the dire, preferring to mingle various moods and genres. The play falters in trying to tell too many stories at once, but if it can’t maintain sustained dramatic interest, it does at least offer a glossary of contemporary British slang, such as “mash-up” (very drunk or stoned), “beaker” (cocaine), “butters” (disgusting), and “properly kriss” (sexy). I had thought “badger” was another bit of jargon, but it apparently refers to an actual badger.