IT is the historic building at the heart of Scotland’s capital which has found itself at the centre of a spate of recent scandals.
So expecting an audience to turn out for a Fringe show in the City Chambers without any actors, or even a script, sounds like the ultimate cruel con trick.
But the offer being made comes with a twist: audience members will spend the entire show debating what to spend a pile of cash on – which includes some of their own money.
Participants in The Money, who will pay a minimum of £10 a head to play an active role in the show, will have two hours to come to a unanimous decision sat around a bare table in the main council chamber.
If the “benefactors” fail to reach a decision in front of their fellow audience members, the money they have placed on the table will roll over to the next performance.
The stakes can be increased at any point if any of the “silent witnesses” surrounding the table decide they want to take part, by ringing a bell.
Just 50 tickets will be available for each performance of the show, created by Exeter-based theatre company Kaleider, which will be staged as part of a British Council showcase of new theatre in Edinburgh.
It was conceived by artistic director Seth Honnor, who tested out the concept on a group of friends in a caravan in Cornwall. He has described the show as “thrilling, but a bit scary too”.
Emily Williams, senior producer with Kaleider, said The Money will offer a chance to “get a real insight into a microcosm of society and how people behave”. She has urged potential ticket-buyers to avoid reading about previous performances, including a run at Battersea Arts Centre and a one-off show in the House of Commons.
Ms Williams said: “At the point of buying a ticket you’re given a choice to either be a benefactor or a silent witness. We have a maximum of 15 benefactors to begin with, who are sat down in the middle of the room and are then given the rules of the game.
“A maximum of 35 silent witnesses will be sat on either side of the table, so it will be set out a bit like a council meeting. The benefactors can speak but the silent witnesses aren’t allowed to. However, they can ring a bell and then put a minimum of £10 or as much as they like on the table to get a voice.”
The Money is one of the few Fringe shows to be staged at the City Chambers, as the council is sitting for normal business in August.
The six performances of the show are having to be staged over just two days inside the main council chamber to accommodate regular meetings.
Ms Williams added: “It’s very important for us to do the show in places of civic decision-making, both past and present.
“When I was researching where decisions about Edinburgh have taken place, the main council chamber was the obvious place. It was a straightforward hire. The only thing they said was that they didn’t want any auctioning or betting occurring.”