Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

All the drama that democracy entails ... and right there at your fingertips

The people put their point across in Pending Vote

I think it's fair to say that a fair percentage of people here would question whether politicians are really acting on our behalf. Orange or green, right or left, they often seem more comfortable in the trenches than out doing battle for their electorate.

Maybe it's time for a People's Parliament? Well, funny you should say that. Tonight, festival will be offering any of us who've muttered under our breath: 'If only I was in charge ...' the chance to have our say.

Pending Vote is an intriguing piece of theatre in which you can find out what direction Northern Ireland would move in if ordinary people got a chance to make a difference.

Here's how it works – each member of the audience is given a remote control before taking their seat. There aren't any actors. Instead, an enormous screen throws up questions which we're asked to vote on. Should we admit late-comers? Do we want fewer parades? Do we want a president? Should we abolish the police? Should democracy always win out? What if most people are in favour of the death penalty, or conscription, or censorship? Are we capable of ruling ourselves?

It's all up for grabs, as we're asked to question the benefits and contradictions of our democratic process.

Avant-garde Spanish director Roger Bernat's show has been performed around Europe for several years, but this is its first visit to Ireland. He's fascinated by new theatrical forms and social groupings, and has combined both these subjects in to something he calls "theatre for the mind".

And for the record, when I'm in charge, I'll be a benevolent dictator.

Cheap chocolate, free books and compulsory sentences for anyone who says "driving forward", "the reality is" or "let's listen to some jazz".

Until that happy day, you can have your say at the Lyric tonight. Let the debate begin!

Pending Vote is at the Lyric Theatre on Monday and Tuesday

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