Beyond Price

This is a wonderfully complex piece; part intertwining story, part vocalised ruminations of Jack Klaff, a Fringe veteran who gives a stunning performance. The production claims to be a collection of highlights taken from shows that could not make it to Summerhall this year. It is more like a slowly unfurling exploration of what to take into consideration, not just when building a programme, but looking at the value, use and point of the arts.

An excellent exploration of the uneasy relationship between money and art.

Klaff gives an utterly absorbing performance, slipping in and out of roles, weaving from storyteller, to whimsical lecturer in his discussion of the process behind building a programme for a venue like Summerhall, where to start and where to go. The lecture like atmosphere made me want to take notes, but I was too busy hanging on his every word to reach for a pen. His softly spoken manner encourages the audience to lean in, drawing them further into the performance. Klaff is equally comfortable presenting impersonations of economists, his friends, and Boris Johnson, as he looks at the kind of questions these people ask. What do people get from art? What is the reward? What makes it unique? Smattered amongst these heavy questions and answers are some ‘games’, incorporating audience participation as they have fun trying to aim projectiles at targets.

Eventually pulling the scattered threads of thought, conversation and storyline together into a cogent and resonant point, Klaff manages to articulate something very difficult to express: how to detect good art. Does it allow you to participate, are you watching with tear streaked eyes or have you turned away. Have you felt that emotional pull? Does it feel like the piece has been thought through, yet there is still something completely unknown about it? Once you have found that great art, how on earth do you put a price on that experience?

It is not a performance I would call accessible. While, at its core, it is an audience around the fire with a storyteller, the jumping around throughout the piece between points, scenes, and games that were ephemeral and sometimes tough to grasp and connect could at points leave you lost and struggling to see if you had failed, and missed something or weather the next link had not been revealed yet leaving the observers frustrated and waiting for Klaff to get to his point, unable to connect the dots because they did not have all the cards.

I would recommend this show to anyone who is interested in an excellent exploration of the uneasy relationship between money and art. However, this show goes past that, exploring essentially what makes great art work, and absolutely beyond price. 

Reviews by M Johnson

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The Blurb

Highlights from those shows that couldn’t make it to this Festival. Klaff will commemorate anniversaries. Yes, we’ll see Jack as fornicating pandas, dubbed Carry On characters, a verse-speaking Mandela and tap-dancing robots. But there’s also visceral material here. We’ll discover what today’s theatre makers plan and value, what issues of the day concern them and what plays governments ban and keep from us. A rounding-off of Summerhall’s season and a celebration of the live art of the theatre, replete with almost illegal dollops of fun.

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