Money by Shunt


Written by Nina Smith
24 Wednesday 24th March 2010

In any state of societal meltdown, financial or otherwise, some creative minds find inspiration and we, the theatre-going public, ultimately benefit from a hit and smugly-politically relevant oeuvre.  Enron seems to have had the Theatreland crown so far, but there is a hot contender for it in London Bridge - Shunt’s ‘Money’.

Emile Zola’s 1891 novel L’Argent written as a response to the collapse of the bank Union Generale in 1882, is an accusing critique of the dangers of speculation, greed and loose regulations within the banking industry and provides the inspiration for Money. The play takes place in a purpose built, three floor metal structure into which the audience is invited. 
With extraordinary energy and vision the theme of blinkered financial ambition and its terrible consequences are explored via a Kafka-esque mis-en-scene during which the audience are at the mercy of the cast, and ultimately sit as witnesses to a parliamentary debate.

The narrative is foggy but the plot is only one angle to this multi-dimensional extravaganza: this is a physical experience, and one that places certain demands on the spectator (the most pleasant of these, arguably, being the consumption of a glass of champagne on the third level). The audience is led upstairs as we watch, through glass floors, the action two storeys below. The marked contrast of total immersion and the enforced distance from the activity creates a whole new experience of the set, and the viewer is disconcertingly unable to establish what might come next. 

This is device theatre at its most compelling and challenging.  The lighting alone adds another dimension to the experience: plunging us into darkness, revealing hidden levels and allowing us to float away from the contrived environment and to invent our own narrative. As a comment on our current economic situation, it serves to highlight the ignorance of those who strive to profit from the absurd world of finance, but really, after seeing Money, there’s no telling what you could take away from the show. That is its magic.
Money is only showing until March 27 so this is your last chance to see this groundbreaking production though a third run of the play is a possibility. 


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