Roller-coaster ride on stage

Mike Bartlett’s dazzling Earthquakes In London - heading for the Theatre Royal Brighton from Tuesday, October 11-Saturday, October 15 - offers a high-octane roller-coaster ride spanning the late 1960s to the year 2525.

At its heart is an examination of what Mike sees as our all-pervasive fear of the future and our guilty pleasure in the excesses of the present.

It’s Cabaret, we’ve got our heads down and we’re dancing and drinking as fast as we can. The enemy is on its way, but this time it doesn’t have guns and gas, it has storms and earthquakes, fire and brimstone.

Burlesque strip shows, bad dreams, social breakdown, population explosion and worldwide paranoia all enter the mix in Mike’s fast and furious metropolitan crash of people, scenes and decades as three sisters attempt to navigate their dislocated lives and loves, while their dysfunctional father, a brilliant scientist, predicts global catastrophe.

“There is a lot in it!”, Mike laughs. “But essentially, it is the story of a family - a very modern play but an old-fashioned story at the centre.

“The starting point was that I wanted to write about climate change, but in the end it was as much about families; should we even have children. These are big issues, but there are individuals at the heart of it.

“The starting point was the brilliant quote by James Lovelock (the 92-year-old scientist, environmentalist and futurologist) saying we are living like we are in the Weimar Republic, we are all burying out heads in the sand ignoring what is to come. I found it really striking that this old scientist, with not very long to live, was giving us a warning about our future.”

But Mike stresses his play isn’t a newspaper article; it isn’t a sermon: “I don’t think I have clear ideas about the answers at all. And that’s exactly the space where you should be writing a play. a space where you genuinely don’t know what you think.”

And in Rupert Goold, Mike feels he has got exactly the director he needs - the man who so famously directed Enron to such acclaim, turning a play about financial crisis into an intense, innovative theatrical experience.

“I wrote it for the company, specifically for Rupert. I love what Rupert does and I love his ambition. I thought ‘Let’s give him a play that can match him!’ And he completely took it in his stride!”

Tickets on 0844 871 7650 or www.atgtickets.com/brighton.