Thursday 10 October 2019

Do Not Collect $200 - Live Art Review

What: Do Not Collect $200
When: 9 - 19 October 2019
Where: MUST Space
Created and directed by: Harley Hefford
Head writer: Aleks Corke
Featuring: Zoe Condliffe, Callum Foulkes, Rohini Jaswal, Celina Mack, Lachlan McCormack, Meghan Mitra, and Arianna Walley
Assistant director: Kate Speakman
Set by: Ashleigh Baxter
Costumes by: Kirky Kirkman
Lighting by: Justin Heaton
Sound by: Caitlin Duff
AV by: Eamonn Johnson
Stage managed by: Shannon Brown
Natasha Nosiara and Luna Erica
The world of live art has been a bit quiet in Melbourne lately, but MUST has gone all in with their extravaganza event, Do Not Collect $200. The family favourite game Monopoly has been upsized to a full participation experience and we are the living tokens having experiences, earning money and clout, and living life inside an all capitalist system.

Created originally in 2017 by Magical Mystery Co., Hefford was invited by MUST Artistic Director Yvonne Virsik to recreate the event at Monash University. The original involved apps and roaming, but the programmer was snapped up by Google and this iteration is a slightly more analogue version of the event - but still heaps of fun!

You are attending the product launch of Hasbro's newest iteration of Monopoly - Monopoly Life! The event is kicked off by TV star Marvin (McCormack) and marketing diretor Arkangela (Jaswal). After the obligatory speeches, explanation of the rules, and trantrums, you are invited to start playing the game.

Playing in groups of 5 (BYO or join a table) you get a lucky dip of money and some clout. Just like life, your position on the totem pole is more luck than logic. You can sell clout for money and you can pay money for clout. It all depends on what you think is more important in Monopoly Life!  Pick your token, throw the dice and start your journey around the board.

Unlike traditional monopoly though, you don't collect properties. Instead you land on and buy experiences. Different experiences earn you different amounts of money or clout. You can choose to engage or not, depending on what you think will make you the richest person at the end of the night.

I did not get to do everything of course (I think that is impossible), but some examples of experiences you can have include record a podcast, participate in Survivor, become an artist, be on a jury, etc. Along the way you may also have to pick up random cards including calling the Capitalist Hotline and admitting a money secret, or a Cent card which may earn you money or cost you money. If you go to jail you better make sure your debating skills are up to par or you could be left out in the cold (literally) for a very long time.

Across the evening there is also a book launch by entrepreneur Corei (Foulkes) who has discovered to make a fortune all you have to do is write a book telling everyone else how to make a fortune. He spouts all the facts and figures - but what do they all mean?

As with all capitalist systems there are the front people and then there are the workers who make it all happen. Poor Lena (Mack) works her butt off but people can't even get her name right, and Juliette (Walley) is asked to present an analysis of the feedback from the evening without being given any time to prepare the data. Situation normal really. I did wonder if these young performance makers understood the dark truths which lie beneath their comedy and how much a presage of their own futures they were really foretelling.

The evening is packed full of fun and as with life, you have limited information and must make your choices and hope you get the experience you want. At the end of the game there are winners - the best photo, the most clout, the most money - but you are left to decide if perhaps you are the winner by having the best experience(s)? After all, you really can't take any of it with you...

Do Not Collect $200 is a fun exploration of the complexities and pitfalls of pure capitalism. You also get to decide if you are going to play by the rules, but if you don't then beware of parking inspectors!

The great thing about Do Not Collect $200 is you get to decide your level of participation. Every decision is your decision to make and the night is yours to build as you choose. A fully functioning drinks and snack bar also help the night pass with a lot of laughter and sharing. After all, isn't that what board games are about?

Do Not Collect $200 is a lot of fun and quite well realised. It is an incredibly complex operation taking around thirty people to create and has been realised well. Kirkman's costuming is right on point and the AV (Johnson) is integrated well.

The event has a really nice blend of performance and participation. Perhaps my only complaint is I didn't want to take time out of the game to go to the toilet but I really, really, needed to pee. Eventually nature won, but it was the quickest pit stop I have ever made! Do Not Collect $200 is well worth the trek out to Clayton.

4 Stars

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