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BWW Review: REPUBLIC, VAULT Festival

BWW Review: REPUBLIC, VAULT FestivalBWW Review: REPUBLIC, VAULT Festival

The nation of Mars is finally free. It's 2199, six cities have taken control and declared themselves republics after the revolution. Upstart Theatre's latest creation is an intriguing experiment that looks and feels more like a digital board game rather than a conventional performance.

Technology and human bonding coexist in the enterprise, with director Tom Manning equipping the various groups - which end up consisting of friends and strangers - with a tablet and a sheet of stickers with roles written on them. The players become anything from Doctors to Farmer-In-Chiefs, but it's explained that interaction will be strictly voluntary.

What ensues is a game where the factions will have to choose their own path, allocating funds and deciding what and who to support to make their city thrive. The action is commandeered by Manning and his team, who orchestrate the pace from the centre of the room. Republic ends up being an interesting operation as a whole.

Morals and values are explored, some cities fall and other flourish. The outcome of the show largely depends on the structure the participants give to themselves and the conversations had inside the separate circles. Political stance and willingness to collaborate have an influence, as does intuition and acumen. While the stakes don't seem too high and the result might not be entirely enlightening on politics and such, it's a good night out.

On a further level, it's curious how the groups develop according to single personalities. For instance, our group was composed of hyper polite Brits (not counting yours truly, who's not from the UK) whose aim was not to come off too strong or take control in any way. Things might have gone down a different road if there had been a more resolute leader, but we survived the storm and our resources remained somewhat intact.

The interactive piece is relatively thought-provoking and the technology is pristine, so Republic works well. Ultimately, it shows how human intervention is at the core of everything. We make choices that have consequences, and sometimes these choices wipe away entire cities.

Republic runs at VAULT Festival until 9 February.


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From This Author Cindy Marcolina