Touring – reviewed at The Lowry, Salford
Guest reviewer: Daniel Shipman
A play which goes into the details of the economics behind the 2008 banking crisis might sound like a pretty dull way to spend an evening, so credit to Proto-Type Theatre for not shying away from this as a subject matter.
The Audit is a mixture of spoken word, performance, soundscapes and videos. Despite this abundance of material on stage, it never feels as though the audience is being assaulted with information. This is no mean feat considering the company communicates the economic details of the crisis in staggeringly in-depth detail. The wit and intelligence behind the spoken word sections really help here – I felt I could have listened to them for the full running time.
In the days leading up to The Audit, I had been wondering whether the banking crisis really could act as source material for a truly relevant piece of theatre. After all, it began a decade ago at this point and, for me at least, was beginning to fade into history. But then, just hours before the show began, both Toys R Us and Maplin announced they were going into administration and I was reminded that we are still suffering from the after-shocks of the events around which the play revolves. As they say in the show, Wall Street isn’t so far away after all.
So how do the company turn the dull and depressing facts of the banking crisis into entertainment? With theatre of course! Small props such as briefcases, coats and money (lots and lots of it) help the two performers turn the grim reality of the event into dark humour for the audience’s enjoyment. The piece only begins to falter when we are left too long without the intervention of some kind of humour. One particular section, roughly two-thirds of the way in, comes dangerously close to sounding like an economics lecture rather than a piece of theatre.
Despite this, The Audit is worth a watch if only because of how creatively it manages to balance entertainment and education.