Wild. And not subtle. But enjoyable and pointed.
Despite starting almost 40 minutes late due to technical issues (which caused a bit of disquiet from some audience members), The Market Is A Wind Up Toy is a production which has clearly had a lot of thought put into it. Although a little strange to start off with, the show brings you quickly into the world it wishes to convey, and after the initial awkward start that begins many shows, launches into a fast-paced and quite mad exploration of greed and “progress”, two cornerstones of our economic system.
One thing straight off the bat – the play is not subtle. Mirroring Dante’s Inferno from his Divine Comedy trilogy, the story revolves around a character who is seeking to reclaim a golden cow idol from Hell after Satan steals it from a board room. On the way, the utter expendability of the character is explored, along with hatreds, wastage, neo-liberalism, and the only beautiful things in the performance find themselves chewed up. Such is the nature of capitalism, played out in an obvious metaphorical journey onstage.
In the end even the sacred golden cow (a nice biblical reference) turns out to be treacherous. Such is the fickle nature of the market.
The unsubtle nature of the metaphors – although numerous and diverse – do mean that the show will not appeal to those who are of a libertarian mindset. Mind you, they probably would not want to anyway, but for all you die-hard capitalist lovers out there, this show is not for you. The rest of us with a conscience however can find meaning and enjoyment from it. The use of metaphors almost veers into the ridiculous – almost every sentence is poised between being too ridiculous to be taken seriously, and yet the show is self-aware enough to laugh at itself whilst playing the lines straight.
From an aesthetic perspective the show was down-right near flawless. It was very tight, with each performer acting in sync (or not in sync) as required for full emotional impact, whether that be sadness, comedic effect, rage, or hope. This was backed up by a sound production that was tight and sharp, and was at times quite beautiful. But truly the costumes carried the day – vibrant colours that could have come from a Split Enz album, combined with a somewhat grotesque cow costume, and a gigantic Margaret Thatcher mask all made for a visual spectacle. One may dislike the performance based on the metaphors, but the visuals were stunning.
Also, this was the first time I had seen actual smoking onstage before. What a time to be alive.
Overall, a fun and vibrant experience for those who despise the inhuman capitalist machine (or cow). Although there are bright lights and smoking onstage, it is tightly held together, and the unsubtle metaphors are certainly enjoyable.