"Thought provoking, interactive political theatre"
by Eleni Young for remotegoat on 04/05/15

With the general election coming up there’s plenty of debate going on about how the country should be run and by which party. For those who are keen to flex their political muscles, The Free Word Centre has created a thoroughly interactive production where you, the audience, get to decide on what happens. But how on earth do you create a production like that? So, last Friday, I decided to find out for myself.

After a brief introduction, new identities are given to each audience member and are taken through to a long room divided into mining, farming, property development, education and health and waste disposal. Each division has it’s own lead cast member and for the next hour and a half, everyone is set to work to ensure that our new ‘community’ has food, housing, education and a source of energy. Split into several rounds, laws are presented with added commentary from journalists and votes are taken on what laws are passed. At the end, you find out what state your community finishes at.

The performance itself is well thought out and certainly encourages audience members to interact without being put on the spot. Opinions can be shared, current topics such as privatisation of the healthcare system and fracking are up for debate and your health and wealth points determine how well you do.

This is certainly an intelligent production that’s thought provoking and is performed with plenty of character. It’s a challenging production for both the audience and the cast who are masters at improvising and adapting to the audience. Where the performance fell down, were the moments in between rounds that left some members of the audience a little confused on what to do next. At times it was difficult to really know what to do or where to go and this could have been helped with the addition of one or two ‘unbiased’ characters to put people back on their path.

This is a great Theatre in Education piece which is fun, interactive and definitely interesting for adults, however, I feel a trick has been missed and that this really should be aimed at 16-24 year olds. It’s a provocative piece of theatre and I think that this would be an excellent piece to get young people into politics. Having said that, if you’re up for a challenge and think you know how to run a community, head over for an entertaining and educational night.

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