This is not a lecture, an angry protest or rebellion, this is an awakening. Or so we are lead to believe by Gary McNair in his one-man show Crunch. Looking at the way in which we value money and how we interact with it, McNair presents an inspiring and thought-provoking performance piece.

Presented to us in the style of an American “enlightenment” course, we learn five steps to rethink our actions towards money as a commodity. McNair is a excellent performer, who manages to not only perform this course of enlightenment, but make the whole experience somehow an educational tool, too. If I didn’t understand the nature of the banks’ lending before Crunch I certainly do now, and I am weary of the vast sums of money which in reality do not exist. Of course the nature of banking and spending/loaning of money is complex, and is never quite as simple as McNair makes it, but he does go a long way to strip back any pretense and confusion, and to deliver it rather straight forwardly. All of this means that Crunch is seamless, and never feels like a lecture or an attempt to brainwash the audience. At each stage of the piece we are encouraged to question, or to at least understand what is happening, and to act as individuals (and as McNair is keen for us to recite back to him, we are “great individuals”).

Crunch balances the right amount of informative understanding of money with audience participation and McNair’s own unique style of delivery. As a piece it is brilliantly funny, picking away at our obsessions with money, and how greed seems to so easily slip into our lives. McNair gives us the chance to earn money in the performance by bidding upon an envelope with an unknown amount inside – as it turned out our bidder gained a profit of £10. This of course links excellently with the underlying nature of the piece, the values we place upon money, and the increasing amount of gambling that is done through the banks alongside our own greed for wealth.

The whole performance careers towards the ending when, under McNair’s instructions, an audience member is invited to rid himself of the restraints that money has put upon him by shredding a £10 note. It is by and large a poignant moment. How much do we value what is essentially nothing but paper? This note, the currency, might relate to an amount within our bank accounts, or might be worth a value in goods, but we never really see the true value of it. At the end of the day, the money we exchange goods for and collect over time is essentially never seen – we never see the weight of those numbers on our statements in nice piles of gold in the bank. McNair releases himself from the idea that we are tied down by our wealth and our obsessions with money. He invites other audiences members up to do the same, and whilst you could see this as a gimmick, it’s not about shredding money for the sake of a performance piece, it’s about reevaluating the way we look at money as a whole.

Crunch is an excellent example of a piece of work which is honest and never attempts to be anything more or less than it is. McNair is an excellent performer who guides his audience through ideals and ideas with fluidity, gaining our trust and I’m sure changing a few people’s ideas on money as he goes. Later on that evening as I went to the cash point to withdraw some money, I couldn’t help but to think back to Crunch and how McNair had been right, we really could do with another system beside money. Unfortunately I’m not sure any of us could do this… yet.