The Market is a Windup Toy – A life within the immancence of spending power. (Theatre Review)

The Market is a Windup Toy

Bloomshed Theatre Company and The Old 505 Theatre

7-218 May. You can grab your tickets here.

It took Dostoyevsky writing in 1864 to refer to Western civilization as a ‘Crystal Palace’ drawing attention to the 1851 structure he visited on one of his trips to London. The palace was hailed as a world wonder, but for Dostoyevsky it made a clear representation foreshowing globalization.  Artificially climatized and making astounding use of natural light, the building represented an essential transference distinction between interior and exterior. “With its construction, the principle of the interior overstepped a critical boundary: from then on, it meant neither the middle-class or upper-class home … rather it began to endow the outside world as a whole with a magical immanence transfigured by luxury and cosmopolitanism.”[1]After the building of such a hothouse, both nature and culture became indoor affairs. Now, a hothouse of climatized luxury would produce an eternal spring of consensus. “Boundless sentimentality would characterize the internal climate, and an overstretched humanitarian domestic morality would result in a spontaneous empathy of all with the fates of all. For Dostoyevsky the whole of society moving into the palace of civilization strives to make the world happy and achieve mutual understanding between peoples in a post-historically relaxed state. Biopolitics begins as enclosure building. This enormous hothouse becomes the essential environment for the mood softening conditions required for consumerism.

In a marvelously clever act of observation, The Bloomshed take their Dante inspired work The Market is a Windup Toy and locate this passivity and mood softening to the Ikea brand and its essential location inside the home. This softening is not to be confused with boredom, which is kept endlessly at bay by a doctrine of ‘Final Sale’ mentality espoused by none other than ‘Margaret Thatch’ herself who sells off the end of the world amid a sea of absurd optimism. Amid the torments and horrors of hell (plastic bag cities and the Abu Ghraib dance hall among other clever observational relevancies) everything in this post-historical world is geared toward the future as it offers the sole unconditional promise to a room (city, country) of consumers. Even in hell we are promised that comfort and convenience will never cease to flow.

Dostoyevsky was convinced the eternal peace of the Crystal Palace would mentally compromise its inhabitants. According to Christian mythology as both Dante and Dostoyevsky would have us see, relaxation inevitably leads to the release of evil. What better modern-day representation of the desire to alter the interior towards a modification of universal comfort than Ikea brand homogeneity? Once ‘evil’ is deprived of its historical pretexts and utilitarian facades it ‘crystalises’ into its terminal form: boredom. It is subsequently shocking to find that evil – like heroism – encompasses the quality of a mere mood. We are left with the baffling postulates, the meandering eradications, and a pointless drive to make oneself and others suffer which is the pared down, ordinariness of evil. Dante’s journey to hell then becomes exemplified in the ‘meaningful Facebook post’ the ‘drive to be genius’ and the Ikea flatpack.

So, The Market is a Windup Toy becomes a powerhouse observational stimulation ride into hell and out of hell at the same time. James Jackson directs his own and Lindsay Templeton’s writing in an exuberantly styled and directed production. As all media analysis insists, the format is the message, and the warm familiarity of the left’s beloved Sweden played out in colours and language preps us for the jolting and jarring of the plays more shocking moments. Sweden is the perfect symbol of the fat, satisfied left, those of us who have allowed communism to become a steppingstone on the way to consumerism. It is here we see the irony of luxury housing in Newtown (Sydney’s ‘bohemia’) bedecked with consumerist tributes to whatever disgraceful ‘fad’ lays itself between thinkers and their boredom. It is here we see the entire working life, wishing life and expressive life of the individual within the immanence of spending power. In this way, The Market is a Windup Toy becomes reflexive theatre.

Performances from the troupe are well worked, complete and superb. This is a physically demanding play that see its performers tested on their fitness while offering up their lines with equal animation. All the cast bring it completely and give the piece its proper energy that sets it alive offers everything to the witness. The sheer energy exhibited on the stage imbues the audience with an optimism the subject matter does not inspire, despite its being so very funny.

The Market Is a Windup Toy is a wonderful addition to the 2019 Program for the old 505 Theatre and a truly brilliant night of theater for those filled to the brim with a loathing for capitalist nonsense but no where to take our frustrations. There are only a few nights of this marvelous show left, so make sure you go and take a friend. This is the kind of theatre everyone will get a kick out of.

[1] “In the world interior of Capital” by Peter Sloterdijk: The Crystal Palace.