London’s County Hall was a rather serious and staid setting for ‘The Money’ – what sounded like a fun new show. Weird…. because it very much felt and looked like a court room. This show was touted as a ‘theatrical social experiment’. The premise is that is a group of complete strangers have 60 minutes to agree how to spend a pot of real cash.
If the players run out of time, then the money will roll over to the next show. In order to win the right to spend the cash as they see fit, the group have to agree unanimously, how to spend it. They cannot give it to charity, it has to be legal and they cannot split it between themselves. The audience are ‘silent witnesses’ if a silent witness doesn’t agree with them, then they can join in, right up until the last second – as long as they fork out at least a score to add to the kitty.
Now. I don’t know about you, but when I hear ‘to be televised’ and ‘show’, ‘players’ and ‘pot of cash’ I can’t help but think ‘game show’ I think ‘fun’ I think ‘Yee-hah’ and cheesy music. The clever intriguing promo video said it was ‘A unique interactive theatrical performance ”See humanities best and worst traits laid bare right in front of you’ ‘Is this your chance to make an easy buck? ‘ Like. Ooh er missus, I thought, I can’t wait! County hall is a beautiful old building, but the old leather-bound chambers do lend a sense of foreboding to proceedings. I mean… aren’t game shows supposed to be fun? My guest and I tried, (in vain) to make ourselves comfy in the most uncomfortable seats known to man – think sack of spuds forcing you into a completely upright position with no give whatsoever. My guest. How lucky was I to get 2 tickets in this day of social distancing?
There were two hosts. Once the players were seated around the huge table one host placed a bell on the table. The other presents a briefcase. She empties a briefcase on the table. It contains a pro forma that must be signed at the end of the time by all players, a set of rules which a player reads out to the others, AND….. the cash! (oooooh!). Disappointingly, and quite un game showy is the pot of cash – a paltry £260 which the host dashes down on the table like it’s done her something. Whilst explaining the rules the other hosts let us know that silent witnesses can leave at any time. This seemed odd to me until not even 15 minutes in – I’m ready to go. They set the 60-minute countdown clock off and leave them to it.
One player reads over the rules and the 13 or so players just stare at each other. Grudgingly a conversation begins. It’s difficult to hear because everyone is wearing masks despite plenty of room for social distancing. I find myself having to tear my eyes away from the countdown clock willing it to speed up. 30 minutes in. Boring doesn’t begin to describe this experience. Let-me-out-let-me-out-let-me out! No. I’m here to review.
There is one bright spark amongst the 13 players who is fairly amusing in her thought process ‘Let’s spend it all on lottery tickets for all of us’, but mainly it’s just drivel and droning on from the group. Apart from the unnecessary dramatics from the hosts I have yet to understand the theatrical aspect of this show.
The group seem to be all set to agree what to do with the pot, then two or three silent witnesses pay the fee to enter the melee. All this does is throw the discussion off course and leave them undecided again. 10 minutes to go…tick tock. 5 minutes left and some people pay up and dive in with new ideas. Again at 2 minutes. Too late and too much confusion never going to be unanimous. The players scrabble in panic to sign the proforma as the gong strikes the end of game, their failure and announcing my freedom.
So… the money is now about £320 and will roll over to the next ‘performance’. Ha. My guest and I are very suspicious and conclude that the latecomers were deliberate plants…. could this be the performance aspect perhaps? Very tellingly there was no round of applause at the end – I’ve never seen that before in my life, even at the most terrible shows. Suddenly it dawns on me why they offered 2 tickets. It’s a thumbs down from me. Don’t waste a precious hour of life you’ll never get back and give this a very clear miss. ‘The Money’ was recorded with a view to be televised, but I can’t see it working, I’d rather watch paint dry.