World Factory, Young Vic, review: Engaging project presents uneasy facts about the global textile industry

There’s enough fun interaction to stop this from feeling like a lecture

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The Independent Culture

This engaging project from Company of Angels and political theatre group METIS presents uneasy facts about the global textile industry in the form of an interactive monopoly-style game.

In a breeze block-built room, the audience is divided into teams and tasked with running an imaginary factory in China for one year. Equipped only with a file of Chinese workers' profiles, fake money and playing cards with a choice of two options per card, the teams are faced with dilemmas like whether they should pay below the living wage or cut their staff to save money.

Four digital projections on each wall show real factory footage and interviews with  textile factory workers while the ‘game’ takes place. Four actors play several roles, representing different sides of the textile debate, interacting with the teams and acting as factory managers and offering a potted history of how we became a global consumerist society, with speeches from Reagan, Thatcher and Deng Xiaoping on wealth creation and free trade, but there’s enough fun interaction to stop this from feeling like a lecture.

As each answer the teams give leads to another question, the consequences of their decisions is revealed. The cumulative effect of these decisions (265 made in total, we’re told) leads the audience to see how difficult it is to make clothes in a way that benefits consumers, workers and the planet.

11-30 May, 020 7922 2922; youngvic.org.

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