A brief note on spoilers: £¥€$ (LIES) is best experienced with no foreknowledge of the production’s mechanics. If you have a ticket to the sold-out run, be aware the following article contains mild spoilers.
£¥€$ (LIES) is a sprawling interactive, immersive theatre production by Belgian powerhouse Ontroerend Goed exploring the global financial market and the human infatuation with greed. Each audience member is far more than just an onlooker, everyone participates in the game, starting their own bank, investing, borrowing and doing whatever it takes to keep them afloat and growing.
Theatre doesn’t get much more immersive than this. The audience embody the show and the show relies on them to engineer the enclosed global financial market it aims to create. Nothing is forced on you, everything is optional, and yet by making decisions in your best interest you end up with a table full of loans, bonds, shorts and capital from multiple markets around the room. And the surprising thing is the inherent greed, everyone wanting to outdo one another, gain more capital, taking bigger and bigger risks as the room gradually heats up. It’s a genius idea, the audience turn against one another and in doing so, you appreciate and understand, on a simplified level, the events leading up to the 2009 financial crash, because you’re making the same decisions those bankers did. It’s incredibly addictive and thoroughly engrossing, and towards the end, when the inevitable crash occurs, becomes surprisingly intense. The stakes have never been lower, and yet it feels vital to resolve the situation in the best way possible.
On a technical level, £¥€$ (LIES) excels. The performers speak in a cultish unison, calling out like a stock market when markets open, rushing around tables selling bonds, creating a tangibly tense atmosphere. Equally impressive is the statistician, giving you updates on money invested, money earned, credit ratings of each society, keeping the game afloat and building it towards a crash. It’s simply genius theatre. An innovative format expertly executed. Ontroerend Goed have produced a theatrical experience which goes above and beyond conventional theatrics, putting the audience in the limelight and letting them invest their way into oblivion. It’s fair to say the bankers we all demonise don’t seem quite so bad when you make the exact same decisions.
Running: Upper Church @ Summerhall, 2nd – 28th August (not Mondays) 15:45
Image: Ontroerend Goed