But that was only the start. In Zoe Svendsen’s play World Factory at the Young Vic – the audience becomes the cast. Sixteen teams sit around factory desks playing out a carefully constructed game that requires you to run a clothing factory in China. How to deal with a troublemaker? How to dupe the buyers from ethical retail brands? What to do about the ever-present problem of clients that do not pay? Because the choices are binary they are rarely palatable. But what shocked me – and has surprised the theatre – is the capacity of perfectly decent liberal hipsters on London’s south bank – to become ruthless capitalists when seated at the boardroom table.
The classic problem presented by the game is one all managers face: short-term issues – usually involving cashflow – versus the long-term challenge of nurturing your workforce and your client base. Despite the fact that a public-address system was blaring out in English and Chinese – that ‘your workforce is your vital asset’ – our assembled young professionals repeatedly had to be cajoled not to treat them like dirt.