Writers: Andrew Westerside, Rachel Baynton and Gillian Lees
Director: Andrew Westerside
Reviewer: Sam Lowe
Gillian Lees stands behind a glass lecturn and acknowledges the entering audience. An image reminiscent of a politician about to make an important speech. However, what you can really sense is Proto-type Theatre’s burning anger and passion, as they have a lot of things they want to say. They want to jam pack as many politically related points and information as they possibly can within this precious hour of performance time. The Audit tells the story of how the people of Iceland changed the world, even if just a little bit. Exhibiting the power within a minority coming together, protesting and fighting for what’s right. This show examines all things contemporary politics and the economic crisis of 2008.
You cannot deny Proto-type Theatre’s thoroughness and dilligence when it comes to their research. They are not holding back in the slightest. They are out to expose: inequality, corruption, injustice, greed, borrowing, dishonesty, market manipulation, insider trading, fraud, tax evasion, and the frustration, anxiety, and uncertainty of the public. They can and they will name and shame. Much of the script utilises the device of dark humour and irony in an effectively sharp and witty manner. The spoken word sections are intelligent, creative, and beautifully written. There are times when the performance transitions into the realm of storytelling and myth, which looks to symbolise how those in positions of power don’t appear to learn from the mistakes of the past. History repeats itself.
At times, the performance does verge on being preachy, particularly at the end. It may be argued that the performance themes of revolution and protest, might make it appropriate to be preachy, but this reviewer is not so sure. The script comes across as essay-like at points, and there is a real sense of information overload. Initially, this seems like an effective idea because all of it is a political minefield; difficult to cross-examine and decipher. But, for a performance piece trying to inspire people into making a social and political difference, even if just a little bit, perhaps alienating the audience with a surcharge of information is not the best approach.
Rachel Baynton and Gillian Lees are excellently in sync with one another, as they flick the pages of speech and deliver the next quantity of information from their lecterns. Their performances are subtley and suitably sinister. The digital design and artwork by Adam York Gregory is high quality, providing the visual political context to what is said. It reflects how we as a society only understand what is going in the world of politics, as a result of our mediatised culture.
To some people in the world, “money means anything you like”. When it comes to Proto-type Theatre though, the cultural value of their work is clearly more important. One thing’s for sure, you wouldn’t want to enter into a political debate with this company, you can guarantee you’d lose your side of the argument.
Reviewed on 28th February 2018 | Image: Contributed