Writers: Hannah Ringham and Glen Neath
Director: John Hardwick
Reviewer: Glen Pearce
It’s a question posed by Hannah Ringham, repeatedly telling us that this is a free show and we are free to pay or not. That’s not quite the truth though as before Ringham bares her soul to perform she needs to know it’s going to be worth it. It’s a convincing and engrossing sales pitch. Playing on guilt, pity and a good old fashioned sob story, Ringham cajoles and coerces her audience into paying upfront for the show.
Why do the audience pay? Is it a sense of guilt of watching a performer dig deep into her personal psyche (however false and manipulative that narrative may prove to be), or is it the feeling of not wanting to be the lone voice that doesn’t contribute.
There’s also a look onto the effect on placing a value on their work has on a performer. Do they feel the need to ‘sell’ even more of their soul to increase the box office take, and what impact does this have on the self-esteem of the artist?
Ringham’s performance is mesmerising, actually showing us little of the ‘show’ she is trying to elicit money for but showing us the dark side of a performer on the edge. It’s not an easy ride for the audience, with individuals often singled out and put on the spot about their income, or in the case of this critic, subjected to a stream of explicit abuse.
There’s a feel that the joke is played for slightly too long and therefore loses some of the impact but the audience reaction and contribution shows that they are more than happy to pay for this clever look at the real cost of showbusiness, and Ringham headed of £67.33 richer.