I Don’t Know What To Do at the VAULT festival: An XR story that feels contrived and confusing

“I think the main point they want to get across is that they’re aware of the hypocrisy. But I didn’t really see the point. Is pointing it out really doing anything about it?”


Extinction Rebellion is back on the Vault stage. They’re around. This time we get a glimpse into how the whole operation functions. Told from the perspective of activist Zoe Lafferty, aided by actor Waleed Akhtar, who quickly begins to notice that the inclusive, decentralised environmental offensive of XR is rather white and ineffectual.

We follow her as she works through Extinction Rebellion’s toolkit of tactics, from superglue to the European elections. There are laugh-out-loud moments. Akhtar does a good job caricaturing the movement’s snootier contingents at times but this really gets a bit strained after a while. Technically the whole piece felt hyperactive and a bit contrived.

I think the main point they want to get across is that they’re aware of the hypocrisy. But I didn’t really see the point. Is pointing it out really doing anything about it?

The XR story is positioned parallel to the story of Zoe’s boyfriend in Palestine. Londoners glue themselves to buildings, shut off bridges and turn them into garden centres and try to surf on tube trains. Every time Zoe calls her boyfriend the gunfire she hears in the background is hardly worth noting. Crisis is ostensibly a very subjective concept.

It’s a good conversation and I’m glad we’re having it. But it comes across as holier-than-holier-than thou. I left this show feeling confused, which for a show called ‘I Don’t Know What To Do’… well more fool me.

I Don’t Know What To Do will be on the Network Theatre on Lower Road from the 30th to 31st January


Rex is studying for a BA in English and Drama at Goldsmiths. He is especially interested in new political writing, theatre directing and contemporary French and German theatre.

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