The Orange Containers on the Grassmarket

This is a great idea. There is an emergency. A heatwave has been running for nearly a month. Supplies are running short. Water is scarce. The fabric of society is starting to break down. Also, refugees from Bangladesh are off the coast in a container ship. Floods in their country have rendered it unfit for further habitation.

We’ve seen this sort of role-playing event on television. Companies pay a fortune to send their executives on them as team-building and strategic thinking exercises.

Unfortunately, this one is not very well planned. To begin with, neither the Pleasance press office, who are not having a great year, nor the box office person dishing out the ticket collected in advance, thought to mention that the event takes place in orange containers on the Grassmarket, not at the Pleasance Courtyard. Your 947-year-old reviewer found himself charging across Edinburgh with eight minutes to get there and surprised to be only five minutes late.

Then, the event itself is not too well thought through. You sit round a map of the Suffolk coast while information is fed to you by a moderator. Your sole input is to vote every so often on strategic decisions. You don’t discuss, you press a button and the decision is taken by a majority. So when the moderator, having distributed envelopes with instructions, suddenly disappears leaving you with two minutes to save Suffolk from flooding, you have to engage from scratch with a group of people you’ve not met and don’t know how to work with. Luckily, my group were a joy and we saved Southwold and Saxmundham.

The idea is excellent. It’s a shame it’s not better executed.

- Craig Singer