Theatrical game explores security, profiling, privacy and freedom of expression
The Terrorist Watchlist is a database of people who are “reasonably suspected” of being involved in terrorist activity. Theatre Conspiracy‘s Edinburgh Fringe show Foreign Radical asks its audience to put themselves in a position of power, where they decide whether or not a man accused of extremist sympathies should be added to the list.
The show positions itself as something close to an interactive theatre game. As part of a group of thirty participants, I entered the room in the King’s Hall through a curtain. The first thing I saw was the sight of a naked man stood, leaning hunched over a table. Before long, we proceeded through another curtain where a gameshow host, dressed in a white suit, began asking us probing questions about our lives. He was profiling us as a means of splitting us into smaller groups.
Over the course of the 75 minute performance, participants would see different combinations of “evidence” based on the responses they gave, whether in the form of monologues from the suspect, video footage or his belongings.
The performance was certainly intriguing and culminated in a debate between the audience, who needed to decide whether or not to add the suspect to the watchlist. I felt engaged and slightly intimidated when being asked to answer a series of personal questions; however, the debate at the end was fairly straight-forward as the predominantly liberal fringe festival audience was in agreement with each other from the offset. This meant that the ending felt a little hollow and I was left wondering what emotions or questions they wanted to leave unanswered.
The show is interesting and probably worth watching. Yet, I left with answers and not the moral dilemma that I had anticipated.