I have become obsessed with where the money goes in The Money.
When my neighbour Charlotte and I attended the “part game, part moral debate, part theatrical experience” earlier this week, the cash pot (initially £296, reaching nearly £400 as more ‘silent witness’ audience members paid a £20 upgrade to join the action) rolled over as no unanimous decision was agreed.
In The Money, those who pay to play are gathered round the imposing oak table in The County Hall’s grand Debating Chamber and given an hour to decide what to do with the money. They must all reach and sign an agreement about how and when to spend the totted-up sum, which:
- Cannot be given to a charity
- Cannot be split
- Must stay within the law
It was frustrating to watch as our evening’s players misinterpreted these straightforward rules. And my heart sank at flashes of xenophobia, self-interest and pure time-wasting silliness (a bulk load of vibrators?), as well as inconsiderate antics of a few tipsy participants.
After ruling out the outlandish, the group shortlisted giving the money to either a struggling single mum who lived on one player’s street, the cancer-stricken niece of another, or a man in Nigeria to fund his children’s education. But, as they couldn’t unanimously settle on one, they opted to release the lump sum to the most trustworthy player, a man named John who used to work for a charity in Nigeria, to distribute between all three causes the next day.
This, as you might suspect, was deemed in breach of the can’t-split rule and thus the rollover.
What a waste! Although not really. Producers stress that all the money does eventually get allocated. I checked back the next night and was relieved to see that performance’s pot, swelled by our lot’s indecision, was given to a shopkeeper who has been hard hit by the pandemic.
Scrolling back through the show’s Twitter account, where the destination of the money is announced after each performance, confirms that the funds have been widely, and largely worthily, distributed: a local foodbank, a foster parent, sanitary products for migrants, travel money for an elderly lady to visit her family after the long lockdown separation, teddy bears for poor children, even a cooker for my journalist friend Emma Burnell.
Commercially, the genius of The Money is that my frustration on the night I attended just makes me want to see the show again – and pay to take part rather than just observe. As we walked home afterward, Charlotte and I chattered excitedly about how we could direct a few hundred pounds in our community: massage therapy for our ailing 85-year-old neighbour Dudley, a dog show in the park, reimburse the local pub that put on a spectacular fireworks display to cheer us all up during lockdown, Facebook advertising for a young mum’s crafts start-up business, meals for homeless people in Southwark….
How would you spend the money?