Skip to main content

Price of Money- Belarus Free Theatre- Staging a Revolution- Coronet, Elephant & Castle

It’s hectic and outrageous. It’s “Scenes of an adult nature” - this adult world of ours is indeed getting nastier and more extreme with its capitalist drive (TTIP has arrived on the horizon since BFT last performed this show in the UK and the tories are expressing a desire for the UK to adopt China’s ‘work ethic’!).

© Nicolai Khalezin

 It is time for outrage, as expressed in Stéphane Hessel’s pamphlet “Time for Outrage!” and to whom BFT give a whole scene at the end of their second play in Staging a Revolution, Price of Money- performed in the Cornet in Elephant and Castle, a performance venue for more than 140 years and now facing closure in 2017,  presumably as part of Southwark Council’s re gentrification and regeneration program taking place in that area. 
The issue, as highlighted perhaps by this 1 hour 3o minute “journey” through the world’s various financial capitalist schemes and rackets that drive us, is how “outraged” do we have to be before we make a move to find new ways of living and being? Who wants poverty, as personified here by a romanticised woman trying to flirt with a hot headed male city slicker who just wants to make money? Poverty’s existence of course, is interdependent on the few rich. On the other hand, who wants to be so obsessed with their purse that they end up like the real life businessman Mr Foster, who killed everyone in his family, including his dog and horses, because he had been rumbled by HMRC and whose story is reenacted on stage here with hilarious audience participation (do the audience realise his tragic story is true and happened not so long ago in our distant past I wonder?). Like Aristophanes’ satirical PlutusPrice of Money, devised by the company and directed by Vladimir Shcherban, the five scenes that we are presented with and are assured will tell us “How to get rich quick”, rips the flesh off capitalism and reveals its bare bone torridness, they are quick sketches of how money works and how it can draw even the best of minds and hearts into its rabid, snarling and snapping greedy world so that normal, every day moralities are thrown out of the window.

© Nicolai Khalezin

This greedy existentialism is amplified by Price of Money’s opening scene, a take on Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. As our two male anti heroes lazily flip coins, betting how many times it can be heads in a row (a staggering improbable 92 it turns out) we realise that the two are "within sub- or supernatural forces” as if they can’t help it, as if, as in Tom Stoppard’s play, their future is damned to tread the same path over and over, their individual agency taken away from them by some other force. This theme is carried throughout the remaining scenes, when Plutus regains his sight, and redistributes his wealth to the more deserving and virtuous, at the outrage of the rich. Who is in control? 
But we don’t actually get the sense that “money is the root of all evil here”. It and capitalism, was invented by man, not some outside entity. Like religion, it’s the people that manipulate its ideologies that might be the problem, not the actual thing in itself. 
Stéphane Hessel’s pamplet inspired the global Occupy movement. It was and is a rallying cry for those outraged by the gap between the rich and poor, as is this show. Parts of London are third world and virtually ignored by this government. In Ayn Rand’s words “you cry that money corrupted him. Did it? Or did he corrupt his money?” seems to be one of the bigger questions Price of Money seems surely to be subtly asking? And then, perhaps in Stéphane Hessel’s words, is also an urging for resistance, to peacefully resist the “international dictatorship of the financial markets” and defend the “values of modern democracy.”

Price of Money is part of Belarus Free Theatre’s Staging a Revolution, a two week festival of performances and discussion platforms from Belarus Free Theatre to mark their 10th anniversary in 2015 (2-14 November).

Performances and discussions will be live-streamed here:

performed, devised and contributed to by: Oliver Bennett, Kiryl Kanstantsinau, Pavel Haradnitski, Lenina Reichardt, Yana Rusakevich, Maryia Sazonava, Yuliya Shauchuk, Andrei Urazau, Harriet Green, Eleanor Westbrook, Maryna Yurevich
directed by: Vladimir Shcherban



Popular posts from this blog

Walking the Tightrope- Theatre Delicatessen

Site-specific set? Perhaps. In the old Guardian offices in Farringdon, Offstage Theatre and Theatre Uncut curate a cycle of 12 short plays exploring the tension[s] between art and politics, reactions to the budget cuts to the arts in the UK and debate freedom of expression controversies. Corruption, class divides, perception, blood money, gesture politics and culpability, it’s all there and recent topical events are given stage time, from The Tricycle’s controversial decision to withdraw their support for the UK Jewish Film Festival to the Barbican’s cancelled Exhibit B. The plays are entertaining- Sun City by April De Angelis, Re: Exhibit by Gbolahan Obisesan, Old Newland by Julie Pascal, Tickets are on Sale Now by Caryl Churchill and Exhibit A, by Neil LaBute, all deserve special mention for looking beyond the parameters of funding and freedom of expression in the UK arts- by which of course, I mean a theatrical London still surfing the very last trickling waves of Colonialism and it…

A Man of Good Hope: review

“The ability to have someone tell your story is so important. It says you know I was here.” Maya Angelou It’s a piece of musical theatre about having hope. It’s an urgent work which speaks of age old global phenomenons such as migration and life as a persecuted refugee. The term refugee has been part of the western world’s history since the persecution of protestants in France in 1540, the term migrant is biblical. The book upon which the show is based, an account of the life of Somali Asad Abdullahi who witnessed the murder of his mother when he was eight years old in Mogadishu during the civil war and who then fled across Africa as a boy and young man as a consequence, is in some ways so traumatic a read that the stage work has to offer more positivity than the title infers. 
In the Isango Ensemble and director Mark Dornford-May, with a little help from Stephen Daldry, the book, by Jonny Steinberg, has found the perfect stage partners. One feels that no other company could do this wor…

Safe House- art meets theatre at the Young Vic with Jeremy Herbert and Gabriella Sonabend

It starts with a journey down a narrow corridor, fist clenching wooden key.
‘Follow the yellow line’ the polite Usher says and I do, around the corner and into a foyer area, where I am met with a gust of wind from a machine that Jeremy Herbert, the designer, has created himself. As my hair blows and my cheeks and eyes are battered as if I am standing on top of a mountain, I am tempted to remain here, to continue to feel the gusts in my face and listen to the sound the wind makes. I don’t want anything else and I can’t hear anything else, only aware of a need to immerse myself in it, to let myself go in the rapid flashing lights that emanate from its surface. I’m one who craves aloneness and enjoys it all too well, but I am afraid that someone will come and disturb this brief relationship myself and the wind machine have struck up, or that my mind will interfere, the buzz of thoughts getting the better of me.. so I move on around the room, after all, there are four more ‘safes’, all a s…