£¥€$ (LIES) – Ontroerend Goed

What is money? For Belgian theatre group Ontroerend Goed, money isn’t actually metal coins or pieces of paper with numbers printed on them, no, money is so much more than a physical object. Money is trust. And the more you invest in trust then the more you get back. This is the simple (yet dangerous) premise that £¥€$ (LIES) is built on.

A seriously clever piece of theatre

The Upper Church at Summerhall has been transformed into a casino, with audience members split into small groups to play at betting tables with a croupier to guide us through the next 2 hours of being the 1%. Naturally, you have to spend money to make money and as money is trust we have to deposit our own cash in order to play the game and win big - this motif continues throughout the whole show, subtly yet undeniably manipulating us to risk more and more for greater returns.

The cast speak in unison, welcoming us to the show and explaining the rules of the game. Along with the rotating, monolithic stock market index in the centre and the dimmed lighting, this introduction provides a somewhat cultish atmosphere as we’re encouraged to worship money and the pursuit of it. The game starts off nice and simple with casino chips representing our capital and dice rolls representing our luck in investments. As the game progresses we move from investing in real goods to service economies and then eventually into abstract concepts with ever higher risks and returns. The company cleverly make sure each aspect of the game corresponds to an element of the financial world, making a seemingly impenetrable subject engaging, if not entirely understandable, and thus further mirroring the complexity of investment banking.

However, in the back of our minds we all know that this bubble is eventually going to burst. I’m sure we could, theoretically, break the game’s mechanics so as to avoid a crash but as we’re all split into separate groups with no way of truly comprehending the bigger picture, the game’s design ensures that we only ever think about ourselves. This is a seriously clever piece of theatre that plays you as much as you play it, effectively highlighting the structural problems of modern day capitalism without ever resorting to preaching or attempting to provide a solution other than to continue playing the game and invest in “trust” again.

Reviews by Liam Rees

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CONSPIRACY

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Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

Location

The Blurb

‘The best way to rob a bank is to own one’ (William Crawford, Commissioner of the California Department of Savings and Loans). Ontroerend Goed invites you to get under the skin of the well-to-do, the 1%, the super rich, the ones who pull the strings, the faces we never get to see. For one night, you can take their chairs. You call the shots. You're in the centre of our economic system. You shape the course. And who knows, you might make the world a better place, more fair, more responsible because you'll do things differently, for sure. 

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