October 14, 2014

Dr. James E. Hansen was in the audience at a recent performance of Extreme Whether, a Theater Three Collaborative and Theater for the New City production. A NASA scientist for decades before his retirement, Dr. Hansen has been called the first man to speak the words “global warming” before members of Congress, in 1988, and the play’s protagonist was partly inspired by him. I didn’t stay for the talk with him, partly because I was afraid he might denounce the entire proceedings. Let’s hope this play, written and directed by Karen Malpede, doesn’t set back the fight against climate change another decade or two. Jeff McCarthy, a fine actor, plays John Bjornson, the noble and frustrated NASA climate scientist at the center of a family drama with larger consequences. Mr. McCarthy succeeds frequently in bringing his character to full, angry, textured life, but after two-and-a-half hours he is finally brought down by ludicrous dialogue and plot developments.