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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: http://belarusfreetheatre.com/livestreaming

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


 

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