World Problems conceived, written and performed by Emma Mary Hall, is a delicate intimate exploration of memories real, imagine, future and communal, that gently opens up our world’s problems. 

The show is composed in majority of Hall recounting memories with the format: “You remember —.”  It’s intimate sharing, slow and steady, that immediately starts an understanding and relationship between performer and audience member.  Hall, who has worn multiple hats creating and producing this show and is our performer for the night, is inviting us into her world.

The emotional load each memory has is held up by Hall, reflected on, and then passed to the audience, almost as if it was a series of delicate objects passed hand-to-hand.  The memories begin as personal but grow to be collective.  As Hall reflects on pets, childhood, squirmy feelings, laughable annoyances, we’re brought alongside and share in the nostalgia.  From time to time, her invitations to the audience become literal, she needs help, as we all do from time to time. 

Because Hall is getting to work in her landscape of metal parts, putting an unknown design together, whilst we the audience sit spread out, often with plants as neighbours.  The landscape and design, by Fleur Dean, is wonderful.  It’s everywhere and nowhere, a disjointed scatter that is slowly reorganised into a simple world and image.

Equally aiding Dean are Rachel Lee who has provided the lighting design, and SS. Sebastian’s on sound design.  Lee’s lighting helps swirl the intimate action into the eternal, an evocative design that serves the show very well.  SS. Sebastian has created a soundscape underlying and punctuating Hall’s memories, mirroring our own imagination to fill in the blanks and add colour to memories that slowly transition through the show.

Where the memories begin as personal, and merge into the communal, they then pivot to presenting problems and issues of the present as sweet nostalgia, and continue on into the future.  Hall remembers seeing the modern problems of our lives mount up and remembers being numb to them.  She remembers missing the feeling of youthful purpose and care.  And she remembers a march into a dystopian future. 

It’s a future that is seemingly inevitable now.  It’s written in the papers and on the news and backed by more noise and information that can possibly be sensibly digested. A future where our protectionist stances, our greed, our inaction on climate change, our refusal to own responsibility, and our wonderful politicians all deliver us what we collectively deserve.  A future that is so easy to ignore, and one that many of us are numb to.

World Problems won’t tell you how we’re going to save the world, but it suggests the best first step, is to put in the work to not ignore and shut away our anxieties of the future.  We need to care.

There is a moment, at the close of the play, where the whole night is condensed to a repeated action.   It’s: effort, release, effort, release, effort, release.  The effort is continuous, you can’t stop or switch off, and the release isn’t achieved without it.  But the reward of release is weightlessness.  A moment that zaps you back to your childhood where every decision had great heft and purpose that lead to almighty life changing decisions.  Although our youth and memories lie behind us, World Problemssuggests that with work, there’s life, again, found in getting back into the moment.  Life ahead in our future.

And if, as an audience member, you’re also terrified that Hall may injure herself against the lights, well that’s part (maybe) of World Problems’ provocation.  It’s scary as hell to face the future.  Time to get to it.

*The team and associated creatives are holding further weekend workshops on tangential themes for those that might be interested.*