Crunch (4 stars)

This article is from 2011


Cunning manipulation of attitudes to money

A theatrical performance acutely parodying motivational lectures, or an actual motivational lecture? Gary McNair is playing with his audience, and they’re probably not the type who thought they were susceptible to such things. They probably think they’re too cynical to be taken in by the self-help patter (‘Brothers and sisters, I believe that you can all be winners’) he peddles out at the beginning, and they’re probably right.

But even in a venue operated entirely by volunteers, where a bartering shop is in operation most weeks, there’s one system we all subscribe to. Setting pulses racing with a live auction for an envelope containing a mystery sum, he then neatly punctures both the senselessness of our naive subscription to a system of faith in notional quantities of precious metals, and that of any attempt to extract oneself from such a system.

Having coaxed several audience members to enact a very real gesture of their liberation from currency’s shackles, McNair leaves a strange brew of exhilaration and unease in the room. While he finishes with a reversion to the self-worth jargon of the start, perhaps the real conclusion here lies in the fact that the aforementioned venue is just days away from a buyout.

Forest Café,, until 27 Aug, 8pm, free (ticketed).


  • 4 stars

Gary McNair challenges you to relinquish the shackles of money in his five-step programme, presented as part theatrical monologue and part motivational talk.