Wednesday, August 15, 2018
£¥€$ (LIES) @AlmeidaTheatre...
Last Saturday night Stuart and I went to see £¥€$ (LIES) at the Almeida Theatre in London's glitzy Islington.
£¥€$ is an interactive game satirising the international banking system. Only it is a lot more fun than it sounds. Rather like Monopoly but you are playing for real.
You arrive with your group, but immediately get split up. You are then seated at one of ten gambling tables in a darkened room. The theatre has been gutted to resemble a casino and you along with six other strangers sit opposite a 'croupier'. Only they are not a croupier, they are your new country's central bank - and you and your new friends are all individual banks. Everyone is instructed to turn out their pockets and any cash is secured by the bank and exchanged for chips. You place you bets, you roll our die, and depending on the outcome, you make your returns.
The returns are initially modest but as time progressed more and more sophisticated financial products are introduced to the game. You can take out loans, you can increase your stake for bigger rewards, you pay your taxes, you can go short, you can issue bonds, you can buy bonds from other countries (each table i.e. country has a credit rating that affects their bond price), you can merge with other banks... You get the picture. As you make more and more money, you are encouraged to gamble more and more. You trust the system and the system keeps paying out. Credit thrives. Greed is good. For some.
Only the financial crash is never far away. And when it comes, and come it does, who do you bail out and who do you leave to sink?
The take home message? The national and international banking systems are incredible complex and highly interdependent. Money is very alluring. Trust is fleeting.
A great night out.