The worst possible moments produce the greatest opportunism. This is the basic premise of Nicholas Pierpan’s new play, a look at the pragmatic power games of the City and the fallout of global recession. While some attempt to patch their lives back together, others dance on the wreckage; as one banker puts it, “this is when rich people get really rich”.
Under Matthew Dunster’s direction, this production constructs a fiercely Darwinian atmosphere of testosterone-fuelled competition
Pierpan’s tactic is to navigate financial crisis via the medium of two City traders. One, Edward, proves to be collateral damage in the collapse of Lehman Brothers, while his friend and rival Jack exploits the crisis to rack up risky deals. Under Matthew Dunster’s direction, this production constructs a fiercely Darwinian atmosphere of testosterone-fuelled competition, where the only favours are dearly paid for. It is an atmosphere that is heightened by Alison McDowall’s design, all slick corporate lines softened by a superficially friendly but coldly synthetic strip of grass.
Punctuating the bankers’ greedy scheming with the petty, spoiled concerns of their families, this starts out with all the promise of biting satire, but in its juggling of institutional corruption and family drama it settles for an uneven tone. As Pierpan’s cautionary tale dissolves into a money-grabbing deal with the dark side, his diagnosis of the rotten heart of the system is limited at best.
** (2 stars)
Runs until 3rd November