Over the past year we’ve all experienced our fair share of Zoom meetings, whether it’s for work, quizzes, or catch-ups with friends. And now Isla van Tricht’s new play Money utilises the software, as the audience is invited to a charity’s Board meeting to discuss a serious matter.
Money concentrates on struggling charity the Nyoni Youth and Community Project. When it’s revealed at the meeting that the charity has been offered a large donation from the Anders Corporation, hopes are high that the Nyoni Youth and Community Project can be saved. But when the Anders Corporation’s ethically questionable actions come to light, the Board – along with the audience – face a difficult decision: whether to accept the money or reject it.
As the audience joins the Board meeting they meet key people involved with the charity, including Glenn Rye (Aaron Douglas), Chairman of the Board; CEO and founder Angela (Saral Madziya); staff member Flo (Loussin-Torah Pilikian); IT wizard Avery (Adam Rachid Lazaar) and ethical fundraiser Kaia (Nemide May Basri). There are a few stereotypes in there, including ambitious city type Glenn, but in the whole there’s a nice mix of characters and personalities, and the cast of five all do well. Elsewhere there’s also a welcome pre-recorded cameo from Mel Giedroyc, who’s a mix of smug and menacing as Chief Executive of the Anders Corporation.
Director Guy Woolfe has succeeded in creating the atmosphere of a business-focused Zoom meeting, The set-up is certainly relatable to many viewers, particularly at the start when technical difficulties are ironed out, people are eventually unmuted and there’s a discussion around people’s background choices. During the show the characters branch off into breakout rooms for more private conversations and the audience are able to move between the rooms to listen in to these chats. Although this is a nice touch, it does feel as though you’re sometimes missing out on some more importance conversations taking place elsewhere, particularly when, for example, some breakout rooms feature discussions around character’s personal lives rather than the matter at hand. At the end of the play the audience are given the power to make the final decision over whether the donation will be accepted. There are presumably two different endings, but the play would benefit from a longer conclusion to fully explore the decision and its consequences.
The play gets more interesting as the tension begins to build and personalities clash over the difficult decision. There are moments where the meeting is reminiscent of the Handforth Parish Council meeting with Jackie Weaver. But after more than a year of lockdown restrictions and living our lives online, it’s fair to say that Zoom fatigue has set in for many, and it feels as though this may have had more of an impact if it had been presented earlier in the year. Nevertheless, Money is certainly an engaging and thought-provoking production, and is certainly relevant given recent headlines about donations and the ethical questions around them.
Money streams until 15 May.