Written for The Stage
The Price of Everything is a performance lecture written and delivered with typically deadpan charm by Daniel Bye. Capitalism dictates that society exists on a consumer model – just how much is art worth?
Bye tells us how much our body parts cost – our skin a mere £2, our bone marrow an astonishing £13.8 million – which is a tidy way to establish that monetary value is arbitrary.
He tells us about selling an air guitar on eBay for an extortionate amount of money. Sadly, this turns out to be untrue, something Bye plays with a lot. He revels in fiction’s ability to make points with a punch that reality can’t dream of. He deconstructs our propensity to disbelieve acts of compassion.
The Price of Everything doesn’t just attack the cuts on the arts, but capitalist individualism generally. In the face of Margaret Thatcher, Bye hands out free milk. In the face of selfishness, he tells the story of a chain of kindness that ends in a money-less utopia. It’s not true of course, but as Bye hands out a £20 note to one audience member and sets them a task, you can see he hopes one day it might be.