The Money. Theatre where YOU the audience is in charge. Kaleider, one of the world’s leading companies in extraordinary live arts, presents The Money®. The show that can lead to some incredible acts of kindness, some moments of madness and always a fascinating conversation about the value of money and what is important.
It is May 2021 and theatres are finally allowed to reopen after an agonisingly long second-lockdown. So, when I was invited to some see (or should I say play) The Money Live, I absolutely jumped at a chance to be in another space other than the four walls of my apartment… And what a show to return to!
With a super limited run of only 8 weeks, The Money is a show you’ve absolutely got to try and catch before it ends.
How does it work?
The idea behind The Money is deceptively simple and yet makes for fantastic entertainment! At the start of the show there is a pot of money, a judge, and a timer counting down from 60 minutes. It’s our job (the audience) to decide how we spend this pot of money. Fail and we get nothing!
Watch… Or Play?
The audience is divided into 2 types of players:
- The Players – those at the centre of the action, they are deciding how to spend the money.
- The Silent Witnesses – unless they ‘buy in’, these players cannot influence the decision
- The money cannot be split between Players
- The money cannot be spent on a charity
- The money cannot be used for anything illegal
- How, when and where the money will be spent must be unanimously agreed on by all Players
- The Silent Witnesses cannot influence Players in any way whatsoever
- …Unless they spend £20 to ‘buy in’ to the game. Then they may have a say in what happens to the money
- If the timer runs out and no decision is made, the money rolls over to the next show
We played on a warm, sunny bank holiday Sunday, so it was absolutely no surprise that the first suggestion was to spend the pot of money at a nearby pub to get drinks for everyone. Quickly, this idea was shot down in the favour of more charitable suggestions, building to a climax near the end where the timer read just 5 minutes and still no unanimous decision had been made… *gasp*
I played The Money as a Silent Witness which, unsure of exactly how the game would run (or what I’d spend the money on) made a lot of sense. This didn’t mean we weren’t a part of it however. At any point in the game Silent Witnesses can chuck their £20 note onto the table and ‘buy in’ as a Player.
In our game, a lot of people bought in. Probably around 5 or 6… Bringing the pot up by a healthy £120! The atmosphere was electric though. Even after vowing not to buy in, my hand was hovering over my wallet at so many points in the game. There’s a real pull to throw yourself into the ring and see if you can win the money for yourself, or even just to have a voice to argue with someone you disagree with. THAT is the pull of the game.
In all, the experience felt a lot like a social experiment. A lot of questions were thrown around about the value of money – how could we make a meaningful impact with the money? How can we judge a deserving cause? Are we even the right people to make that decision? There was something oddly Kafka-esque about the whole spectacle. I loved it!
London County Hall
Even though The Money Live has been run all around the world including in Australia, Nigeria and China, Kaleider could not have picked a better venue in London than the London County Hall. This venue has also hosted the infamous “Witness for the Prosecution” play pre-lockdown, and it makes sense! The tall vaulted ceiling and cold marble really lends itself to an atmosphere of being judged.
In our showing, we unanimously chose to spend the money on a musician to perform in COVID-19 wards in North Wales. I say unanimously, but as a Silent Witness I quietly thought that some of the other Players gave better suggestions. But unless I was prepared to put my money where my mouth was, I had to stay quiet!
All in all, the experience was really different and I highly recommend giving it a go if you’re in London (or indeed another city it’s showing at). In just 60 minutes you’ll see the best and the worst of the human race, feel very frustrated, feel sympathetic, feel thankful, but most of all will exit the theatre wondering the big question: “What would I spend the money on?”
Tickets for The Money Live can be purchased for £20 on The Money’s website.
Mairi is the editor-in-chief of The Escape Roomer and writes about news, and reviews covering London and UK south.