Life lessons even for vegetarians: The Winners Curse @parktheatre
A play about the process of peace negotiations and negotiation theory might sound like a dreary way to spend the evening unless you’re already a student studying this stuff. But Daniel Taub’s play, The Winner’s Curse, has enough bad jokes and entertaining performances to give you some sense of the goings on, haggling and bargaining on the international stage. Whether it’s a play or an attempt at edutainment is another matter. It’s currently playing at Park Theatre.
The title comes from the scenario where the winner ends up paying more than what the item they have won is worth. And in negotiations winning isn’t the most optimal outcome. And so, during the evening, we are given a demonstration of this against a fictional Eastern European peace negotiation process.
Clive Anderson, the former negotiator for a fictional country, is accepting an award and looking back on his career. Then we go back to his early days in understanding the process. Part dramatised with his younger self played by Arthur Conti, it also feels like a lecture and interactive piece.
The show doesn’t seem prepared for the odd responses interactions with a Park Theatre audience might elicit. On press night, there was an overly enthusiastic participant in thumb wars who knew so much about the rules of thumb-to-thumb combat that she could have written about the subject. And when asked if she would prefer fish, chicken or rabbit, a woman in the audience replied, “I’m a vegetarian”.
But when the story does get a chance to unfold, the cast manages to keep things amusing and exciting. There’s even a nice side story about the landlady of the lodge where the negotiations are taking place (played by Nichola McAuliffe). She manages to cut a deal on her place being part of a national park, after she has had a chance to shoot most of the wildlife there.
You might feel like you have been to a lecture on negotiation 101, which from reading the programme notes, may have been the intent. If that’s the case, it’s more an entertaining lecture than a show.
Directed by Jez Bond, Winner’s Curse is at Park Theatre until 11 March.
Photos by Alex Brenner