Reality Show: Who should get the money?
In the room where millions of pounds were once allocated, comes Kaleider’s The Money, a participatory show where a decision is made on how to spend a pot of money in just an hour.
In London it is taking place until mid July in the socially distanced ex- GLC Council Chamber at County Hall. There on a press ticket, I did not pay, but ticket holders can join as Players (from £20) or as Silent Witnesses (not the dead kind, but paying £30 for a ticket). This show has been performed in Exeter, Lagos, Sydney and allegedly at the Houses of Parliament. Clearly someone must be making money from this show!
It is a wonderful setting which I mentioned in the review for The Witness for the Prosecution and in the same wood panelled legislative chamber. A facilitator, tall, elegantly dressed in a lime yellow jump suit will walk on the table, part of the set, with heeled shoes set with sparking sequins. She carried a Budget type filing box but dark red and a tray, distributing a pile of money and some papers including a set of rules. A huge bell could be rung if a Silent Witness wanted to buy in. A digital clock ticks down and gongs mark the beginning and the end of the hour.
The afternoon I saw it there were 14 Players but another added himself to the team by paying £20. The money pot was eventually £300. The task is to reach an unanimous decision in one hour as to how to spend the money and when to spend it. The only people who can speak are Players. It cannot go to a charity, it cannot be split. If a unanimous decision is not reached all the money rolls over to the next performance of The Money.
The person who read out the rules must have spoken more than any other Players. Olivia, who claimed to be a penury struck drama student from Scotland, asked for money as a deposit on a flat, later changing this to setting up drama lessons for deprived children or food for herself. Talk about over-egging the pudding! She claimed to live in Northampton, said she had no money for food so we questioned silently why she afforded the fare to London and at least £20 for a ticket to the show. It would have cost £20 to ask her and I don’t have a spare £20!
It occurred to us that she might be a plant, a stooge, and maybe this was the feeling of others as in a voting round she achieved a maximum of 2 votes out of 15. A couple, a musician and a NHS newly qualified physiotherapist asked for the money to go towards their wedding. A man in his thirties or forties, with a disability asked for money for his ballet lessons, a commendable cause which appealed to many, but he lost my non-existent vote when he expressed an ambition to be a professional ballet dancer. I never saw his face because of the way the seats are allocated in the Chamber.
Another student asked for a holiday for selfish reasons which he readily admitted. The Silent Witness who joined the Players received a round of applause probably because it would at least stop Olivia dominating the argument in terms of time, not in terms of convincing the audience. Although Silent Witnesses are not meant to influence proceedings, behind masks there were yawns and sighs, and rolling of eyes.
Paul, the newly joined player, asked for money, not for himself, but for an 80 year old woman from the East End who had been isolated because she had had Covid and not seen her family, some of whom lived in Brighton, for some considerable time. This was labelled an act of generosity and won through.
I was very intrigued to read in a Guardian review published two days before I saw the show, but read after writing, where the money went to a drama student. Go figure!
Conceived and directed by Seth Honnor
Director: Seth Honnor
Eleanor Lloyd Productions
Eilene Davidson Productions
Kate Pakenham Productions
Running Time: 90 minutes without an interval
Booking to 18th July 2021
London SE1 7PB
Phone: 0844 815 7141
Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge at the County Hall
on 6th June 2021