Review: An Unsustainable Mess

This comedy sketch show shines a light on everything hilariously wrong in our world

When asked what one could possibly do about the current state of climate affairs, a character bursts out, ‘Do you know what we haven’t tried, though, Jill? A student sketch show!’

An Unsustainable Mess, written and directed by Luke Hoskisson and Ariel Hebditch, serves up everything from satire to slapstick in a 45-minute series of comedy sketches, addressing the hopelessness of our environment, and the silly, ridiculous, and outright hilarious reasons as to why the world is how it is now.

Image credits: Upasana Kadam

I must confess, I walked into the theatre expecting a classically nihilistic, shoulder-shrugging outlook upon our planet’s worsening environment, but An Unsustainable Mess far from writes off these modern climate problems. Hoskisson and Hebditch take playful jabs at large-scale corporations and performative ‘climate change influencers’ alike. They point out, strikingly, that some of the biggest campaigns for eco-friendliness turn out to be ploys and money-grabbing opportunities done by big companies.

The sketches are refreshing and thought-provoking – although some of them appear a bit too one-dimensional, with straightforward punchlines for simple set-ups, they make up for this with an impressively creative range of sketches. In one about fast-fashion garments, where they make a competition out of comparing how quickly they fall apart in the wash, the reality of the situation and the seriousness of our mounting climate crisis grips you underneath the laughs.

However, An Unsustainable Mess isn’t all doom and gloom either. The show takes care not to take itself too seriously, and Hoskisson and Hebditch will give you something to laugh about, even in the face of our miserable environmental state.

Image credits: Upasana Kadam

The excellent cast cannot be ignored as well. From the get-go, I was thoroughly impressed with how the cast of five pulled off each sketch with amazing, charged enthusiasm and stellar comedic timing, especially in the sketches that involved more characters onstage. Though the show starts off a little stilted, sooner or later you will be inevitably gripped by energy and nuance, amidst even more of the sillier sketches.

Creative production work should also be applauded – the cast makes do with minimal, recycled props that intensify the comedy with their simplicity. For example, in a sketch where an office worker has to fight off crocodiles on their daily work commute, they are snapped at by crocodile jaws composed of jagged, recycled egg cartons and, in one instance, a real pair of green snapping Crocs.

However, I felt that the structure of An Unsustainable Mess was what hindered some of the comedy the most – some of the sketches felt a little too short and abrupt, and once I was invested in the plotline of a particular sketch, it would be quickly cut with an easy punchline.

But despite this, Hoskisson and Hebditch have done a brilliant job tackling what’s wrong with the climate of the world, shining light on the structures and the people that enable it. It certainly isn’t easy to laugh at such a foreboding future, but the actors, creators, writers, and producers of this show have done it – and all in 45 minutes.


An Unsustainable Mess runs from Wednesday 19th to Saturday 22nd of January at 9:00pm at the ADC theatre. Tickets can be found here

Featured image credits: Karon Ng (@karon.draws )