Young Vic | ★★★★☆
If you’re wary of audience interactivity in theatre, cast your doubts aside for World Factory, an innovative and thoroughly well-researched exploration of the global textile industry, which remains not only comprehensive and coherent, but genuinely enthralling from start to finish.
We take our seats around communal tables, upon which we find the rules of the forthcoming “game”. The cast begin by weaving together speeches by Thatcher and interviews with factory labourers, sketching comparisons between Industrial-era northern England and booming modern China, the setting for the performance’s main act.
Tasked with keeping a struggling clothing factory afloat, the audience is quickly drawn into an absorbing role-play, and morals are abandoned as the profit motive takes hold. The four-strong company are solemn and mischievous in equal measure, presenting painful new dilemmas with a saccharine smile.
Victorian writer George Dodd is quoted early on: “money,” he wrote, “is the veil which hides the producer from the consumer”. World Factory tears down this veil, exposing the truths – some ugly, some prosaic – behind the global textile trade, and does so with charm, humility and panache.