Theatre review: £¥€$ (LIES) – Ontroerend Goed

Lies' by Ontroerend Goed.
Lies' by Ontroerend Goed.
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Edinburgh Festival Fringe: We usually go in search of art that makes us feel more human, but maybe once in a while, there is scope for a show that lets us see our inner rapacious beast.

Upperchurch @ Summerhall hosted by RBC (Venue 26)

*****

If so, then £¥€$ (Lies) fits the bill. It’s the Belgian company Ontroerend Goed back at its remarkable best, a show that simultaneously reinvents what theatre can be and triggers our emotions in exactly the way the best theatre can do.

As with so much of the company’s work, such as the sensory Edinburgh debut The Smile Off Your Face and the speed-dating Internal, you could question whether Alexander Devriendt’s production counts as theatre at all. Yet it has a structure and a script, of sorts, and even if the audience are as much characters as the company members themselves, it has a sharp political purpose.

The company’s concern is the money market and the seemingly magical way cash is generated with nothing more than a promise or a bet. The audience assembles round a set of casino tables where a teller takes us through an escalating series of £1 million dice throwing gambles, issuing bonds and offering to improve the odds (at a price) as we get the hang of it. The more adept we become, the more our nation state turns from an industrial economy to a service economy and the more we are ready to trade in the stock market with our neighbouring countries. It is like an interactive version of Lucy Prebble’s Enron.

What happens – much as it does in game of Monopoly – is that the rising stakes start to play on our personalities. How irritated I was at the fellow banker who suggested we hold out for an equitable economy free of profiteering – a view I would have shared in any other circumstance, but not now with the currency on the up and something to be created out of nothing.

The speed at which it all happens; the primal instincts it appeals to; and the sense of chaos, confusion and loss it generates when the system collapses teach you as much about yourself as they do about the global money machine.

Until 27 August. Tomorrow 6:30pm and 8:30pm.