The badgers are coming. And the voles. And – wait for it – the hedgehogs. Not panicking yet? Thomas Eccleshare’s Verity Bargate Award-winning Pastoral might just change your mind. Or it might not, for this apocalyptic black comedy, currently playing at the Soho Theatre, isn’t quite sure whether it’s the end of the world or just the end of a punch line. What it is certain to do is provoke lively debate at the next Green Party shindig.
Pastoral’s premise is the revenge of the rural, as nature fights back against the tide of man, Day of the Triffids-style (Curiously, the show is sponsored by Kew Gardens, presumably hoping to attract visitors keen to dice with death.) During a burst of unstoppable fecundity, high street stores become nests, roads are swallowed by swamps and trees colonise kitchens.
Eccleshare and director Steve Marmion wisely embrace the lurking hilarity of fluffy creatures and benign foliage turning horror-movie villains, but, on the whole, are careful not to let this absurdity detract from the claustrophobic sense of impending doom.