Are we not drawn onward to new erA – Ontroerend Goed

Theatre (international, contemporary)

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  • ZOO Southside - Main House
  • 11:00
  • Aug 25
  • 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Suitability: 14+ (Guideline)
  • Country: Belgium
  • Group: Theatre Royal Plymouth, Vooruit, Richard Jordan Productions, BiB with ZOO
  • Warnings and additional info: None
  • Accessibility:
    Wheelchair Accessible Toilets
    May not apply to all performances. You'll find more information about accessibile performances and how to book tickets in the accessibility tab below.
  • Babes in arms policy: Babies do not require a ticket
  • Policy applies to: Children under 2 years


Ontroerend Goed, Theatre Royal Plymouth, Vooruit, Richard Jordan Productions, BiB with ZOO. Like its title, this performance is a palindrome. You can see it forwards and backwards. Because some believe humanity is moving forward, while others believe the opposite. No matter who's right, our quest for progress has dramatically changed the world we live in. Are our actions irreversible or can we undo them? 'The most beautiful, most intelligent and committed performance Ontroerend Goed has ever made, on the boundary of visual art, theatre, poetry and politics' **** (Knack).

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General venue access

  • Wheelchair Accessible Toilets
  • Accessible entry: The level access is via the rear or the builiding. There are 16 steps from the street level to the seating.
  • Wheelchair access type: Building Lift

  • Stairs: 11- 20
    Number of stairs is provided as guidance and is not in addition to any wheelchair access type (lift/ramp etc) stated above.

Each venue can contain several space with different accessibly information. Visit the venue page for full venue accessibility info

How and when to make an access booking

Our access tickets service is available to anyone who:

  • Would like to book specific accessibility services, e.g. a hearing loop, audio description headsets, captioning units, seating in relation to the location of the BSL interpreter
  • Requires extra assistance when at a venue
  • Has specific seating requirements
  • Is a wheelchair user
  • Requires a complimentary personal assistant ticket to attend a performance

RH 87 days ago

This is a standout show. Clever, funny and serious. The show addresses the most important issue of our time in an allegorical way, and with technical brilliance. As others have said, it is not about how quickly you "get it", there is much more here than a simple trick.

Alan Cranston 88 days ago

I disagree with previous reviewers who questioned the pace. It is an elegaic as well as a meditative and thoughtful show, and the second half was perfect in providing appropriate space to the audience for for that as well as to admire the technical skill and the little jokes arising from the format.

I can't help but feel those who thought it was all obvious have either seen too many shows over the last fortnight and are now merely surfing, or else have no deep understanding of theatre.

Ren Reynolds 92 days ago

This show was 50% too long. It's obvious what's going on from the first few seconds, which makes it quite impressive to watch - particularly one performer who's an exceptional physical actor. What we don't need is an entire second half of that essentially explains the first half. Frankly, if you did not get the gags and the point the first time around the Fringe may not be for you.

Colin George 92 days ago

This has to be one of our picks of The Fringe. To tell you how it works would be to spoil it. However the clue to how the piece will unfold is in its palindromic title - something you can read backwards as well as forwards. This is a wonderful idea, perfectly executed. The pacing is, I would suggest. necessary and. if you can read what is happening early on, the first half becomes fascinating. As the second half of the piece unfolds there is a real sense of anticipation as the audience around you starts to understand what is unfolding. The 'story' itself is simple. The message is also profound. However it is gently, colourfully and beautifully delivered. The show is clearly selling out - get your ticket before it does.

Fringefan 92 days ago

I disagree with Philip and agree with Jazza. And I don't think that disliking the show has anything to do with not getting it. It was quite obvious what they were doing and what they were trying to achieve. But for us halfway through it just became a bit dull.

A great truly great concept, very well acted and the first 40 minutes or so were quite alright. But for us it felt the show was a bit too long and it dragged a bit. I also prefer Ontroerend Goed's previous work to this.

PHILIP HEALING 94 days ago

I don’t agree with any of the previous reviews. This is a piece of genius. Just stick with it, even if you have no idea what’s going on and you feel you don’t understand it and/or you don’t know what’s going on. It’s not in a foreign language. Believe me, you will. If you care about how we’re managing to destroy ourselves, this piece has an uplifting and powerful message, whilst still being true theatre. Suck it up and don’t miss it.

Jazza 94 days ago

I really wanted to like this show because we had enjoyed ‘Lies’ so much two years ago and we know that this is a talented cast having lived in Flanders. It’s technically brilliant and cleverly staged but it drags and the process of production overcomes the central message. Not sure what we were supposed to think and take away beyond the obvious. I could write more but don’t want to give away any spoilers. It’s award-winning and very well-received but art is subjective and this was not for me. Sorry. But do go and see it for its technical brilliance.

James Gordon 98 days ago

If you ever wondered what Gibberish spoken with a Flemish accent sounds like, now’s your chance! More seriously, this playful, palindromic show, combining vivid use of easily (but not immediately) understood symbols, real-time video, meticulously crafted speech and physical theatre, is the most deeply thought-through and carefully executed theatrical treatment of its mammoth topic (human use and abuse of natural resources) that I have encountered – with the notable exception of Wagner’s Ring cycle, which is 14 hours longer.

Sensibly, the company doesn’t try to re-invent the wheel. They start with the familiar creation myth, subversively reinterpreted. (Eve pre-dates Adam, who picks the apple and tempts her with it, no doubt then blaming her for his own action and inventing a serpent to compound the deceit.) We end there too – perhaps. The ambiguity is surely deliberate. .ytilaer lautriv ,lanoisnemid-owt si ees ew noitarotser fo krow ehT Is it possible? Can time really be reversed without some act of cathartic destruction? The pivotal central speech, heard twice, suggests otherwise. Behind the screens, all the mess we have created is still there, revealed again at the curtain calls. Doubtless a more optimistic reading is possible. I saw this show on Sunday and I’m still thinking about it.

Prof Teak 99 days ago

Conceptually, this was good, the execution was intriguing....but the pace left something to be desired.
This is a show that you want to fix. It is colorful and fun and mysterious....if the pace could just pick up and if there could be some dynamics and connection between the performers, it would be so good.

Derek 100 days ago

I'm really glad I took a chance on this show. Like other reviews I would suggest you avoid trying to find out too much about it prior to going to see it. It's a slow burner but once you start to make sense of it and realise what you have been watching you'll begin to look forward to all the other parts still to come. All in all this is an intelligently crafted show which will make you think, will make you feel and, in some parts, make you smile.

Rachel Wiggans 104 days ago

If anyone offers to tell you what happens in this performance, run. You have to watch it unfold in front of you. Early on I was distressed, a third of the way in I understood, half-way in I realised what the incomprehensible language was, all through the second half I was agape and at the end I was shaken. This is moving, challenging and exceptionally skilled theatre. A privilege to experience it.

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A Younger Theatre (4/5 stars) 76 days ago

Conceived by Belgian theatre company Ontroerend Goed, Are we not drawn onward to new erA is a highly intelligent and creative response to the state of humanity as we know it. The stage is full of silence, a hushed rapture twisting itself around a single tree potted in a mound of earth. The movements of the performers are tinged with absurdity, as they communicate in an unintelligible wash of would-be-words. Sentences are punctuated with stretches of stillness, broken only by the sounds of branches snapping and leaves as they fall to the ground.

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The Wee Review (5/5 stars) 90 days ago

Forward or back? When it looks like you’ve gone as far as you can, and the what next is mired in mystery, what would you do? Certainly theatre and almost dance, Are we not drawn onward to a new erA is a remarkable production. Ostensibly a story in its own...

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Broadway World (5/5 stars) 91 days ago

The stage is set, a single tree with a single apple hanging from it. A woman lies to the side. It is a Garden of Eden paradise until the apple is plucked. As more people enter the scene, more destruction ensues and the paradise is destroyed. The tree is taken...

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Kris Hallett (5/5 stars) 91 days ago

In a Fringe where climate change is on the lips of so many of its participants, Belgian pioneers Ontroerend Goed, have produced the show of the Fringe, one that challenges all of us to try to put right what has come before.

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To Do List (5/5 stars) 92 days ago

Belgian Fringe pioneers Ontroerend Goed prove (if proof were needed) they are not a one trick pony with this powerful visual metaphor around the future of our planet and how humanity can influence this.Initially frustrating, the performers talk what sounds a little like Flemmish and gradually destroy the stage with...

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Broadway Baby (5/5 stars) 93 days ago

What’s done is done. We cannot go back. We must go forwards. How? This theatrical palindrome from Belgian company Ontroerend Goed is an intelligent and vividly realised exploration of the climate crisis. Revolving around the ‘point zero,’ in which the planet is damaged to such an extent that it becomes...

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British (5/5 stars) 93 days ago

The simplest response to this phenomenal show is just to say, “wow”.

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The Independent (3/5 stars) 93 days ago

Another Belgian company, Ontroerend Goed, are a staple of the fringe – but their work provides a regular shot in the arm. Their new play Are we not drawn onward to new erA (Zoo Southside) is, on a technical and formal level, fiendishly clever and well realised. And it speaks...

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Total Theatre 95 days ago

Ontroerend Goed, who have previously wowed Fringe audiences with one-on-one performances, sensory journeys, gambling casinos, and dating games, return to Edinburgh with a show that – gosh! – is presented on a regular stage, and doesn’t involve any audience interaction or immersion. Although actually, this isn’t the first time… The...

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The Stage [paywall] (4/5 stars) 95 days ago

If you can bear to sit through 35 minutes of very testing, very incomprehensible movement and sound, the payoff for Ontroerend Goed’s show is completely worth it. The Belgian company’s take on the climate crisis, while initially trying, is a very clever piece of theatre. During the 35-minute first half,...

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Exeunt 96 days ago

I spent the first half of Are we not drawn onward to new erA pretty sure I knew what it was about. I knew the concept (just like its title the show is a palindrome) so I knew as each thing was done, each movement made, that at some point...

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UK Theatre Web (5/5 stars) 97 days ago

The artistry and technical skill is astonishing. It's surprisingly funny as the performers reap the laughs they invested in earlier. I left with the broadest, satisfied smile. A stunning show with an effective message. There's hope for the world, even now.

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The Scotsman (4/5 stars) 97 days ago

Look for a while at the title of this latest show from the now-legendary Belgian company Ontroerend Goed, and you may begin to glimpse the idea at the heart of this extraordinary piece of  theatre, created by its six-strong performing company with director Alexander Devriendt, and dramaturg Jan Martens. ...

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The Skinny (4/5 stars) 97 days ago

The mystifying opening to Ontroerend Goed’s latest piece sets up a dreamlike world, where thinly drawn characters erect monuments, tear trees to shreds, and play with plastic bags, all the while sporadically speaking in their own unidentifiable language. Are we not drawn onward to new erA is a clear allegory for climate...

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Whats On Stage (4/5 stars) 97 days ago

Last time Belgian company Ontroerend Goed was at the Fringe, it turned the 2008 financial crash into a fun Monopoly-esque dice-rolling bonanza. This time, the group is clowning around with global warming in a Fringe run of 2015's Are We Not Drawn Onward To New ErA, a palindrome-laden yet bizarrely...

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The List (5/5 stars) 101 days ago

Technically dazzling, emotionally devastating work...

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Time Out (5/5 stars) 102 days ago

I don't think it would take fellow Belgian Hercule Poirot to deduce that Ontroerend Goed’s brilliant new show ‘Are we not drawn onward to new erA’ is palindromic. If the title didn’t give it away, then the official description just spells it out. So trust me, it’s not a spoiler to...

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The Guardian (4/5 stars) 102 days ago

Three years ago, the pioneering Belgian company Ontroerend Goed brought World Without Us to the Edinburgh fringe. It was a mesmerising monologue that went step by relentless step through the stages the planet would go through if the human race was wiped out. In short, nature would take over and...

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