Early Days (of a better nation)

Arches, Glasgow

Mary Brennan


Civil war has left the fabric of Dacia in ruins: we, the people of the City, the Plains and the Islands are now tasked with shaping its future. It sounds like a board game, but in the Arches it becomes a fascinating piece of immersive theatre where the audience drives the show, voting on crucial issues, electing representatives and generally role-playing as if they had a nation's limited budget, and not the weekly house-keeping, to provide power, food and health-care. It turns out most of our assembly wouldn't spend a Dacian bawbee on law and order.

It all gets very heated, very quickly. Coney, the company who created the touring project, are well prepared for this and for the odd-ball variables that play out. Our Islands, for instance, advocate a women-only council - men can only be heard if they pass the Beyonce lyrics test. Would this work for Dacia? Or should Dacia take up the World Council's offer of aid and "peace-keeping forces"? We're kept abreast of what the exuberant shouting matches are debating and deciding by on-the-spot news reporter Dominic Garfield, whose quick-witted resumes - along with rapid responses by writer Tom Bowtell and director Annette Moss - nudge things along without dictating outcomes. Maybe last year's Scottish referendum and the forthcoming General Election are spurs to serious (and cynical or spoofing) reflections on the workings and priorities of a democracy - not least when the interests of very separate regions are involved - but what Early Days does is remind us that we, and not just the politicians, are all accountable for our future. Never mind Russell Brand interviews, get the politicos to take Coney's Early Days challenge.