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Cheese - site specific theatre in Oxford Street

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

CHEESE, an imaginative, allegorical take on the financial crisis set is a disused Oxford Street building, runs from September 12 (previews from September 10) to September 28, 2013.

Written by Nikki Schreiber and directed by Dan Barnard and Rachel Briscoe, Cheese is presented by fanSHEN. Founded in 2006, fanSHEN works through theatre to help people imagine what they haven’t thought of yet. Recently their work has explored territory around environmental justice.

With Cheese, they will partner with local gyms and community centres, installing customized exercise machines which will charge enormous batteries which will be used to power the show. Electric “contributions” are then rewarded by money off tickets equivalent to the power produced.

The technology complements the subject matter of the play, which sees the characters seek alternative models to prevalent social, financial and environmental norms. As well as raising awareness around electricity usage and piloting an audience development model, it allows fanSHEN to continue their commitment to exploring ways of making “greener” theatre.

Joe and Freya have it all: the job, the car, the house made of Emmental in an up-and-coming part of town. Sure, they have the odd disagreement over the best way to make fondue – but they’re living the dream, more or less.

Then one morning, the cheese runs out. There’s no explanation and someone seems to have changed the rules overnight. Joe sets off on a journey through a labyrinth of cheese hole tunnels to investigate; he finds unexpected laboratories, factories, casinos – and some worrying clues that he had more to do with the cheese disappearance than he originally thought.

fanSHEN Creative Director Rachel Briscoe said: “Cheese is a very non-judgmental play. Since 2008, we’ve seen this narrative of the demon banker emerge. Sure, there were some people working in the financial services industry who took some seriously irresponsible decisions but if we only focus on these scapegoats, we’re at risk of missing the bigger picture.

“It’s this which Cheese explores: what was the environment that cultivated this sort of behavior? Cheese isn’t a banker-bashing play, it’s much more morally complex than that – which is a great challenge as directors and an exciting provocation to make to audiences.”

Performed by Rachel Donovan, Jon Foster and Jamie Zubairi, Cheese is designed by Chris Gylee, with lighting by Joshua Pharo and music by Richard Hammarton.

Cheese is suitable for ages 14+.

Tickets: £15, £10 concessions – available on 020 7638 8891 or online at www.barbican.org.uk/.

Time: Monday to Saturday at 7.30pm.

Running Time: 90 minutes.

Floor One, 29-31 Oxford Street, London, W1D 2DR