Review: The Forecast at ZOO Charteris
2★★

The Forecast takes you to a world you only could’ve invented in a Kafkaesque fever dream.

Four women are hired as human garden ornaments, connected temple-to-temple by a chord, dressed in bulbous, glowing ball gowns (ever seen one of those Barbie birthday cakes, where the skirt is the cake?), and suspended over a suburban backyard, for the entertainment of the wealthy family that hired them. Every so often they sing in unison or state the forecast Siri-style, but are otherwise left to bicker amongst themselves. The job is long-term, low-pay, and last-resort.

Produced by Limbik Theatre, The Forecast is adapted from George Saunders’ short story, The Semplica Girl Diaries. But while Saunders narrates from the family’s perspective, making the bizarre commonplace with a dry, satirical tone, The Forecast attempts earnestness, taking it from the women’s perspective and making the bizarre seem, well, bizarre.

One could guess by the potential dual-meaning of the title that The Forecast is meant to be a cautionary tale. However, it is hard to imagine a near-future where anyone would desire four live lawn ornaments to serenade them or read the temperature – we have handheld devices for that! Of course, the show had a lot to say about the treatment of foreign workers or the commodification of woman, but could have done so in a much simpler way.

Higher purpose aside, the plot is rife with nagging questions. Do the ‘Garden Girls’ get bathroom breaks during their six-to-eighteen month shifts? Why are their heads connected by wire? How are they suddenly able to read each other’s minds three-quarters of the way through the show? Beside the point, sure, but distracting nonetheless.  

For lovers of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ and dystopian teen novels, The Forecast could’ve been an intriguing addition to a lively genre, if it weren’t for its beyond-absurd plot and poor execution.

The Forecast, ZOO Charteris, until 26 Aug, 6pm

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