A mixture of traditional music, mixed with techno, easy but interesting staging and serious topics meeting comedy, Rare Mettle Earth was not what I was expecting.
Set in South America, we see the conflict of Western countries pressurizing the indigenous people to succumb to their needs. The salt of this little area contains lithium which could either help fuel energy saving cars or help the mental health of people during the beginnings of the Covid Pandemic. Both sound, on paper, as very useful and morally sound things to strive for, but those behind the initiatives are not quite so angelic. In comes power play; from both the Western societies and Indigenous societies, of the pressure on the poor and the stereotyping of poorer people being for some reason unintelligent.
I did not know what I was expecting. I do not read about shows beforehand, with concern that it might influence my opinion or give me unconscious bias before even seeing the show. And so a really great part of this play is that it strips away layer after layer, bit by bit, adding to the story, making the plot thicker and mixed with moral dilemmas.
As always, the Royal Court’s design is perfection. Simple, yet effective, the transition between places such as America or the UK to the South American countryside is done minimally but it works. White, blank, modern space is created for the former, with something more earthy and natural for the South American town. You can certainly feel the different in spaces.
Majority of the performers double up characters. I heard a person in the audience say this was confusing. That a differentiation wasn’t bold enough to tell. But I highly disagree. The changes in their appearances while, yes, subtle, the performers themselves were able to perform very different characters and I found it very easy to tell. To me, there were more characters on stage and at no point did I come out of that theatrical reality.
The story is, to some degree, a tough one. There is a sense of being, of place, of something that reminds me a lot of conversations that are current and been going on for years in places such as Aboriginal cultures where the impact of the Western societies have pushed aside the true beings of the land. Often, just for monetary reasons. One story thrown in is that the lithium is helpful to others, that it could be a mega discovery in our fight on Mental Health. The other, to save the planet in the long run, with affordable cars. But both of these people are deeply selfish and deeply flawed. It puts you in a conundrum and makes you think truly about your own morals and opinions on the state of our world.
Rare Earth Mettle is a surprisingly thought provoking and intriguing production. It touches upon centuries, of years of white washed culture and in the deep selfishness of those who seemingly are trying to save us and our planet.