The National Theatre, as part of their remit to engage and challenge as well as entertain audiences and to look at the issues and events that concern the future of the nation, commissioned independent economist and commentator David McWilliams to put the boom and bust into a framework suitable for, if you will, a one-man show rather than a play with characters. McWilliams’ clever use of voices gives this work, at the Peacock, a humorous take on the scary, if not anxious, look at us, the outsiders of the title (Outsiders is the name of the piece). The insiders are not just the Golden Circle, bankers, investors, builders, politicians, and he names many of them.
He is witty, personable, and while I would have difficulty understanding economic theory, it was very obvious why he considers NAMA a con job and a waste of our money. He sees the rescue of Anglo Irish Bank as another waste of public money.
I momentarily cringed in my seat when an introductory anecdote about filming on Bondi Beach was interrupted by two guys in Deise GAA jerseys hurling homophobic abuse at Gay surfers.
McWilliams rattles off a list of statistics that show our national debt at 84 billion and growing and for the audience he was electric and they applauded often as he said things that pleased them and their sense of outrage.
His creative solutions using James Joyce and Jack Charlton, as sort of role models, didn’t impress me, and at the back of my mind, even though he didn’t say it, I thought this was a survival of the fittest solution. I would hope that our government wouldn’t be that cruel, but then again I don’t see any brave new world on the horizon. Maybe the weakest, the poorest, the quietest will suffer worse but I hope that won’t happen.
Perhaps it wasn’t theatre as play acting, or heightened metaphor but it was a great ninety minutes with a performer who has the ability to say what he feels, what he thinks and to make us take his ideas out of the theatre into an anxiously real world.