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Shunt presents




Tobacco Warehouse

6 April – 26 June 2010












A review by Angus Templeton for EXTRA! EXTRA!


Shunt’s Money, or Shunt Money as it’s mostly referred to, isn’t theatre, and yet is entirely a theatrical experience. When the doors open we are presented with the interior of a tobacco warehouse near London Bridge, once owned by Fidel Castro, inside of which is a giant Victorian thing. It’s a machine, of some description, or was, but the purpose is completely unknowable.

It’s inside of this contraption that the audience is ushered by balloon toting security police, and eventually we sit, rather comfortably, in what can only be described as a steam-punked chamber. If you’re not familiar with the term Steampunk, it generally means Victorian science, and is a real enough artform that the Museum of Scientific History had an exhibition on it last year.

Money is very loosely based on the French novel L’Argent (or, to translate it into English: Money) by Émile Zola. If you haven’t read this novel, or the Wikipedia entry for it, this show will likely confuse you. I had read the Wikipedia entry, and the performance confused me anyway. Vaguely speaking, there’s a man who’s trying to secure some speculation on a fantastic machine he’s building (a model of the one the action takes place in). The purpose of said machine is never explained, but the idea is that it will make us all very rich. We, by this stage, are co-investors. At the end of the show, it’s revealed that the financial empire which was built up has completely fallen apart, and the protagonist is ruined. We are left in the main room by ourselves, with the doors locked. I wonder how long some audiences remain before realizing they can leave by themselves.

In an age where theatres have to jump through insurmountable hoops in order to prove their worth for funding, one wonders where Shunt gets its money from. If I were to ask the government for tens of thousands of pounds to build a giant Victorian behemoth and then convert it into a theatre with three levels, I would hope to be laughed out of the building if not the country. And yet this appears to be exactly what Shunt has managed to do. It rather cleverly ties in to the theme of Money, throwing good money after bad.

As mentioned, this show isn’t standard theatre. But it’s visually stunning and very well acted. The plot contains little substance, but that’s not the reason to see Money. It’s weird and strange and surprisingly entertaining. You’re asked to be part of the action instead of just a passive responder. The actors frequently interact with the audience asking them questions, getting unsettled by laughs, and in one instance going out and buying a snickers bar for one of them. It’s truly interactive and enjoyable, and definitely worth seeing. Expect to come out of it feeling confused.




Box office:  0207 378 1952

42-44 Bermondsey St London, SE1 3UD

Tuesday – Saturday 7.30pm, Thursday – Saturday 9.45pm





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