I’ve long been a fan of Shunt Lounge which is located in the cavernous underground tunnels of London Bridge. It’s a collective that gives new artists the freedom to display their experimental work. One night you could go there and it’s light displays, abandoned cars and pictures falling off the walls. Another night it might be ‘drugged out’ hippies or a voyeuristic display in a man’s bedroom. Yes, it’s always interesting.
The same collective that runs Shunt Lounge also does large scale theatrical performances and the latest one is called Shunt Money. You need to book tickets, I’d chanced it once and just turned up, but they’re normally sold out. You can book tickets here www.shuntmoney.co.uk
Money was inspired by Emile Zola’s novel L’Argent, which in turn was inspired by the events surrounding the collapse of the Union Générale – a nineteenth century French banking fiasco. How very topical, even 100 years later.
Dolce and I arrived at a warehouse in an industrial part of London Bridge. We made our way to the bar, whilst looking over nervously at the MASSIVE construction in the middle of the warehouse space. Taking our drinks, we settled at a table and looked up to see a storm trooper standing with a bunch of balloons. As they do.
As with all the Shunt performances, the audience is involved and we were all herded over to the outside of the machine which was now showing signs of activity. Men were climbing around it and scary looking characters looked like they were trying to escape.
With some trepidation we followed the rest of the group into the machine. We were directed into a room and stood there milling around nervously with everyone else. THEN the room went pitch black. The noises that the ‘machine’ emitted were scary and it felt like the whole thing was going to lift off. Picture standing in the dark with a room full of strangers, surrounded by loud grinding, graunching industrial sounds, with an occasional burst of steam escaping, like a high pressure valve about to blow. There were shrieks and nervous laughter from the other members of the audience. I was clutching at Dolce by this stage on the verge of a laughing, yet slightly hysterical panic attack.
The lights came back on and we were in a room that was totally different to the room we entered. You’re constantly surprised in this show. There are people in the audience that are part of the show, the floor moves, people just pop in through the ceiling. You move upstairs and around the interior of the machine as the story progresses and you can see from the top down three stories – right through all the floors to watch another scene.
The feeling that you’re Alice stuck down the rabbit hole is magnificent. With most performances you know the routine; first half, intermission and a quick glass of wine and then the second half. Hang up your sense of normality at the door before entering this production and let yourself get swept away, just like Alice in Wonderland.
The show’s run was meant to finish by New Years Eve, but it had sold out every night, so they have a second season running from January to March 2010. If you live in London you simply must go. Go. It really is very good.
Speculation, why does the word frighten you?
Speculation – why, it is the one inducement that we have to live; it is the eternal desire that compels us to live and struggle. Without speculation, my dear friend, there would be no business of any kind. Why on earth would you have me loosen my purse strings and risk my fortune, if you do not promise me some extraordinary enjoyment, some sudden happiness which will open heaven to me?
Aristide Saccard – L’Argent