Money talks: Play flaunts £10,000 in COINS on stage at Manchester’s Royal Exchange to highlight economic woes

Theatre-goers will be saying ‘show me the money’ as an innovative and interactive play puts £10,000 on centre stage at Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre.

Money The Game Show has been captivating crowds across the country with its unique story of how the financial system crashed, using real money.

Audiences are invited to hedge their bets as they are guided through a series of interactive games and tasks that demonstrate how the world’s economy fell to its knees.

The show was created by the multi-talented Clare Duffy, who told MM people are surprised by the sight of so many pound coins.

“The show’s unusual in that it’s part game show, part story,” she said.

“We ask our audience to form two teams and compete in a series of games using £10,000 in real pound coins.”

Clare has already received accolades for her past work Crossroads, her first full-length play, which was award-winning and toured the UK.

In 2011, she was awarded an Arches New Director’s Award to begin work on Money The Game Show and admits that she was inspired by the bankruptcy of the Lehman Brothers and the collapse that followed.

“For me it is the biggest story of my adult life,” she said.

“And yet, as banks were bailed out and no-one was held accountable, I felt that we were perhaps brushing that story under the carpet a little, as everyone tried to return to normal.

“When Lehman Brothers was allowed to fail by the US government that threatened to actually break the whole global financial system in September 2008 and I was really shocked but in some ways quite excited.”

The play runs from May 15-17 as part of a national tour which will dazzle audiences with the element of real money.

Theatre-goers will be confronted with an all-consuming experience that will force them to question what money is really worth.

“Money to me is something I know I cannot live without,” added Clare.

“I see that it runs through our whole lives from birth to death.

“It runs through the everyday mundane things and the epic life changing moments. Money has existed in all human societies since the beginning of history.

“The kind of money that we have now, I think, is almost broken. It is being kept propped up by implausible, perhaps impossible, government bailouts.

“We need some radical new ways to value ourselves, goods, services and the things we chose to believe in.”

The shows two characters, Casino (Brian Ferguson) and Queenie (Lucy Ellinson), are former hedge fund managers who have turned to performance art as a way of telling their stories.

The pair initiate a range of games as audience members ladle cash into buckets for as long as it takes for a bubble to burst and bets are laid on which will be the first to make the big bang.

So far the show has been well received and Clare hopes that audiences will continue to enjoy the experience.

“Audiences have been fantastic,” she added. 

 “The games also help audiences understand some of the more complex financial terms involved with investment banking and hedge funds but they’re also very fun.

“Even the quietest audiences end up being fiercely competitive, bringing some of the trading floor madness to the theatre auditorium.”

The show also has an alternate ending depending on which team wins, meaning audiences often get competitive.

And luckily for the show, no one has made an attempt on the gold coins just yet.

“Thankfully no one has tried to steal the money yet,” joked Clare.

“Although we’re very well prepared in case they do, we have a bouncer on stage every night guarding the money and its covered by CCTV too. 

“Plus, it’s very heavy – so if you tried, you wouldn’t get away very far fast.”

After the play was well received in London and Leeds, Clare has high hopes that the positive run will continue.

“In London, we had bankers and people working in the financial services coming to see it, which was really interesting,” Clare said.

“Thankfully, they really recognised their world on stage and it provoked real food for thought.”

Image courtesy of William Warby, with thanks

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