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Review: Serious Money

London’s stock exchange and a murder: what more could you want?


In the fast-paced world of high finance, Directors Charlie McGuire and James Allen’s rendition of “Serious Money” offers an indelible mark on the audience with its sharp wit and unapologetic critique of capitalism. First performed in 1987, Caryl Churchill’s play revolves around the ruthless pursuit of wealth and power in the financial world. The plot focuses on a hostile corporate takeover and moral bankruptcy, following the death of Jake, (Annie Rainbow) inherent in the cutthroat culture of high finance.

From traders to lawyers, the characters of Serious Money embody the careers that dominate the financial market in pursuit of wealth at all costs. The fast paced and rhythmical nature of the play mirrors the chaotic atmosphere of the financial world, creating a notion of urgency within the audience. The play both opens and ends Act 1 with all characters on calls and celebrating successes, adding to this sense of disorder. This clever use of bookending signifies the unchanging essence of the financial world and the relentless and almost cyclical nature of pursuing wealth and power.

Image credits: Rachel Milton and Bryan Johnson

With many of the cast playing multiple characters, the versatility of these actors is apparent. Both Annie Fogden (Scilla) and Annie Rainbow’s (Jake) take on their multiple roles is note-worthy. Each change in character offered a unique element and was clearly well thought out.

The highlight for me, however, was the somewhat impulsive performance of Corman (Rafa Griso Dryer). His laid back approach to business adds a much needed humour to the heavy topic of high finance, which was well received from the audience.

Whilst the cast do their best, frequent scene changes significantly slow the pace of the production. These movements tended to disrupt more poignant moments, leaving members of the audience feeling disjointed with the storyline. The use of sound between scenes aimed to compensate for the slow transitions, and music was well chosen to suit the nature of the scenes. At times, however, the volume from the music overshadowed the actors, leaving the audience struggling to hear what they were trying to say. This combined with the complicated nature of the play, led to much confusion.

Image credits: Rachel Milton and Bryan Johnson

With the play at just under three hours long, including a 15 minute interval, the effort and dedication from the cast must be noted. The sheer number of lines, especially by Jaysol Doy (Zackerman), really is something to marvel at. A distinctive aspect of the performance was the breaking of the fourth wall. This was very effective in engaging the audience and demonstrated the development of the characters in gaining a sense of agency in a somewhat uncertain world. The play ends with a humorous montage of the characters and when, combined with a song, adds a unique dimension.

Overall the manipulative and ruthless portrayal of the London stock exchange comes across well. Whilst transitions slow the performance, this does not last long. And with serious money to earn, urgency is at the essence and Izzy Lane’s Jacinta really does know how to get it out of people. After all, in the chaotic world of high finance, it really is “survival of the fittest”.