MONEY: THE GAME SHOW
by Clare Duffy.
Bush Theatre 7 Uxbridge Road W12 8LJ To 2 March.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat 2.30pm.
then Tour to 13 April 2013.
Runs 1hr 45min No interval.
TICKETS: 020 8743 5050.
www.bushtheatre.co.uk (London performances).
Review: Timothy Ramsden 9 February.
Glittering show as money makes the world go round and stops people up short.
Money’s made people laugh before, in Bulwer Lytton’s 1840 play called simply Money and, despite its title, Caryl Churchill’s Serious Money. It’s not surprising Churchill’s 1987 energetic satire on the London Stock Market’s ‘big bang’ lies closer to Clare Duffy’s new piece, which is itself bang on the money.
If capitalism divides society, so does Duffy’s show, separating the audience into two rival teams competing under the lead of a flashily attired male and glittering female presenter – casual Brian Ferguson and upbeat Lucy Ellinson – for the money piled on the floor under careful security. Upping the rivalry, the two involve volunteers in contests or scooping coins into treasure-chests. The contests start with skill before moving to rival balloon-blowing and, most trenchantly, a dash for cash, a scurrying scooping of coins as teams try keeping a soap-bubble afloat: West London’s latter-day South Sea Bubble (though the Bush joins Leeds’ Unlimited Theatre in producing the piece, which Duffy developed with support from The Arches in Glasgow).
Between these games are glimpses of Casino and Queenie’s working relations, across a class and cash divide, taking them from finance’s sky’s-no-limit days mid-last decade to the collapse of banks and the end of hope for those who lose-out. These are sketchy by the side of similar material in Nicholas Pierpan’s You Can Still Make A Killing at Southwark Playhouse last autumn. But it’s the game show aspect that makes Money; as with The Lab Collective’s Pinstripe Trilogy at Marylebone Gardens, new performance styles are being brought to a fundamental social and moral issue of the day.
It’s easy to become absorbed amid the flashing lights and brazenly assertive musical simplicities of Rhys Jarman’s set and David Edwards’ score. But, when all the winnings are up for grabs in a final hedge fund gamble, the possibility of all the previous work being undone, the skills and effort displayed counting for nothing and money shifting without any apparent effort, make the insubstantial delusion of a banking system no-one can bank on, as evident in play at Shepherds Bush as it is in earnest in the City.
Casino: Brian Ferguson.
Queenie: Lucy Ellinson.
Director: Clare Duffy.
Designer: Rhys Jarman.
Lighting: Richard Godin.
Sound: Matt Angove.
Music: David Edwards.
15-16 Mar 7.45pm Crucible Studio Sheffield 0114 249 6000 www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk
20-21 Mar 7.30pm Dome Studio Brighton 01273 709709 www.brightondome.org
22 March 7.30pm Burton Taylor Studio Oxford Playhouse 01865 305305 www.oxfordplayhouse.com
26-27 Mar 8.15pm The Brewery (Tobacco Factory Theatre) Bristol 0117 902 0344 www.tobaccofactorytheatre.com
11-13 April 7.45pm West Yorkshire Playhouse (Courtyard Theatre) Leeds 0113 213 7700 www.wyp.org.uk