Thursday 13 October 2016

The Money review

"Are you a benefactor or a silent witness?" That is the question we are asked upon entering Kaleider's The Money. Presented as part of Melbourne Festival, the show is a live experiment on the way society works and how people with different background and experiences can come together for a common goal.

Those who choose to be - or become - benefactors sit in the middle of the chambers in the Prahran Town Hall. They each provide $20 to the kitty and have 60 minutes to decide what to do with the money. The money cannot be given to a registered charity, the money cannot be split, it must be spent on legal activity and it must be a unanimous decision between the benefactors. Other than that, we can do whatever we choose.

What begins with three benefactors ends up with nine. Ideas range from going to dinner together (which is shot down by one benefactor who would rather read a book than have dinner with strangers) to giving it to a homeless man. Eventually, with the serendipitous luck of having someone from a local community group called Welcome To Eltham, we decide to donate the money to the group to assist with welcoming refugees into the community.

As a performance, it is difficult to dictate how "entertaining" this can be as this is a case where each evening is going to be completely and utterly different as the number of people - and the type of people - choosing to be benefactors will greatly influence the proceedings and subsequent outcome. More people might mean more money, but it also means more difficulty in keeping everyone satisfied with how to spend it. There's always going to be a doubt that not everyone is going to be completely sold on an idea yet - due to pack mentality or peer pressure - acquiesce.

Having chosen to be a benefactor, I am unable to comment on how it feels for a silent witness to watch as suggestions and ideas are thrown, accepted or rejected, and to be perfectly honest, they (and the fact the discussion is being live streamed) are mainly forgotten about, expect for when we encourage them to join us as benefactors.

The Money is an interesting event concept in that it gives you the opportunity to think about the things that money can do beyond materialism and consumerism. From little things big things can indeed grow, and the meet up the benefactors from this session will hold in the months to come to see the effects of their invested money scheme will hopefully be testament to that.

Venue: Footscray Town Hall, 61 Napier St, Footscray
Season: until 16 October | Fri - Sat 7:30pm, Sat 2pm, Sun 11am and 4pm
Tickets: $49 Full Silent Witness | $39 Concession Silent Witness | $20+ to be a Benefactor

Parliament of Victoria, Legislative Assembly Chamber, Spring St.
Season: 19 - 23 October | Wed-Fri 6pm & 8.30pm, Sat 2pm & 7.30pm, Sun 11am & 4pm
Tickets: $49 Full Silent Witness | $39 Concession Silent Witness | $20+ to be a Benefactor

Melbourne Festival

* Original review appeared on Theatre Press on 14 October 2016. 

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