Beyond Price

Jack Klaff

Summerhall

From 03 August 2016 to 28 August 2016

Rating: ****

Review by Amy Yorston

Theatrical? Extremely. Funny? Definitely. Accessible? Depends entirely on how closely you pay attention.

As Jack Klaff takes to the floor in Summerhall’s eerie demonstration room, he captures the audience off guard, quickly sliding from pleasant introductions to serious philosophy.

He’s a storyteller, an actor and an extremely engaging individual so the material veers from script, to lecture, to personal tirade, blurring thoroughly genre and indeed any narrative structure.

If a stage can be made of an empty space then Klaff crams his with ideas, observations and thoughtful reflections. The slightly jumbled train of thought is no accident; Klaff covers censorship, funding, the value of art and the place of theatre in one seemingly convoluted monologue that skilfully makes connections and points out disparities.

To even review such a piece creates many questions about the concept of something being "Beyond Price". What is the inherent worth of the show? Am I increasing or decreasing its value by labelling it and overlaying my own interpretation?

This is of course a separate conversation about the nature of theatre criticism but feeds beautifully into Klaff’s questions about what art is and who it is for. He rails against how Shakespeare is taught in a way which alienates and notes how people are made to feel they must keep in their place. He bemoans targets, pointing out that feeling comfortable with living in confusion is actually less confusing than trying to be permanently logical.

Touchingly, he recreates and discusses his relationship with his elderly mother who is now struggling with her memory. Ultimately, it’s moments that are beyond price; connections with moments and with people. The delivery might be dense and rapid but for those willing to fully engage there is a lot to take away and muse upon. It's a whirlwind but an enjoyable one.