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Money the Game Show

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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This show from Clare Duffy, which first appeared at The Arches in Glasgow in 2011, is a difficult beast to categorise.

As the title suggest, it's largely a game show that sees the audience split into two teams, but the games are intertwined with an agitprop tale of banking woe, as our hosts Queenie and Casino - played by Lucy Ellinson and Brian Ferguson - tell the story of the 2008/09 collapse.

The twist is that, depending on whose team wins the game, the losing host ends up as the ultimate victim of the crash, while the show's overall message is neatly surmised by the victor: "Money is part of who we are... We can make it better."

The central coup de theatre is the presence on stage of £10,000 in real pound coins - a surprisingly small mound - which are literally shovelled into suitcases by competing volunteers from each team during a series of challenges. The atmosphere sits somewhere between The Generation Game and Take Me Out, and the presence of a security guard adds to the air of absurdity.

It's a neat concept (conceived when Duffy won a £6000 Arches directing award and decided to put all the cash on stage), though it's certainly not the first time money has been used so literally in performance. The K-Foundation famously set fire to £1million, while Crunch at Forest Fringe in 2011 invited audience members to shred their own money.

What sets Money the Game Show apart is its placement of the game within the context of a drama about the financial crisis. But it's this rather awkward coupling that proves its weakness. After getting the audience whipped into a frenzy, Duffy (who also directs) serves up a rather anticlimactic two-hander that neither tugs the heartstrings nor tells us anything especially new. And the reanimation of the loser as a zombie is an all-too crass metaphor for the government's bail-out of the banks.

Nevertheless, she certainly finds entertaining ways to raise urgent questions about the true value of money (I was surprised at how desperately I wanted my team to win the cash), while Ferguson and Ellinson make excellent hosts. So though it doesn't quite hit the jackpot, you won't leave empty-handed.


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