Melting ice and infidelity

Guthrie Theater’s Dowling Studio hosts successful opening night of Two Degrees.


Dan Norman

Norah Long as Emma and Joel Liestman as Jeffrey in Two Degrees.

Payton Mansfield, A&E Editor

There are few productions that incorporate environmental science and casual sex all in one 90-minute show. Opening night of Two Degrees was full of laughs, gasps, and wonderfully uncomfortable silence from audience members.

PRIME Production’s Two Degrees is an impressive production of just four cast members. Emma, played by Norah Long, is a paleo-environmental scientist passionate about educating the public on humanity’s imminent doom. Unfortunately, she must testify in front of the United States senate in Washington D.C. Her mission is to convince lawmakers that, not only is Greenland melting at an alarming rate, but that the rest of the human race is essentially screwed.

Emma’s husband, Jeffrey (Joel Liestman) is a highschool teacher who feels undermined by his wife’s prestigious job title. Regardless, he express his unconditional love and support for Emma and her work. Their marriage and simple life in Boulder, Colorado is strained after Emma is assigned a three-month long research project in Greenland.

Fast forward to present day Washington D.C., and Emma is stuck in a complicated relationship with her dashing “coworker”, Clay, played by Toussaint Morrison. Conveniently, the two of them have sworn to never speak about their careers, which will surely not lead to problems later.

Jennifer Whitlock plays Louise, Emma’s friend and fellow female voice amidst the male-dominated committee of politicians. Although loyal, Louise has secrets of her own.

Liestman is the most entertaining of the cast, as he rotates between three different roles during the show. Besides playing Emma’s husband, Liestman appears as Emma’s yappy manager Wilson, as well as Malik, Emma’s guide during her three-month stay in Greenland.

The set of Two Degrees is simplistic yet striking. The opening set is blue, moonlit iceberg that nearly reaches the ceiling. Throughout the performance, it is used as a backdrop for landscapes and images from Emma’s past.

While the timeline of events is a bit confusing, the show eventually ties together and leaves just enough ambiguity to convince us no perfect timeline is needed to grasp the story and its themes.

Two Degrees is written by Tira Palmquist and directed by Shelli Place. PRIME Productions was founded in 2016 by Elena Giannetti, Alison Edwards, and Shelli Place. The show runs until October 21, 2018 at Guthrie Theater’s Dowling Studio. Tickets for $9 can be purchased at