by Nicholas Pierpan.

Southwark Playhouse Shipwright Yard corner of Tooley St and Bermondsey St SE1 2TF To 3 November 2012.
Mon-Sat 7.45pm Mat Sat 3.15pm.
Runs 2hr 40min One interval.

TICKETS: 020 7407 0234.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 27 October.

Analysis and excitement in economic new drama.
They don’t write ‘em more up-to-the-minute than Nicholas Pierpan’s new play, which should survive to help history explain the current economic situation in Britain. Through much of its opening act it depicts business types and their families with satiric accuracy, then develops a stronger story element, and follows the curve of recent political pressures. Listen for the word “Cameron”; that’s when lines start bending.

It’s about lives sold to money: making it, but especially having it. Possession of a vast income brings callous arrogance, deprivation the onset of desperation and physical disintegration. Ben Lee’s Jack at his lowest is barely recognisable as the smart-suited, confident-featured executive of the opening.

And while the financial lawman Chris keeps his smart appearance when looking for work from the private sector, the cynical wit and slouching, peanut-popping confidence has slipped away. It’s a turn in status that speaks keenly of a new government’s changed priorities.

There are enough turns in fortune to stock a mini-series, but despite the short scenes, snappily and emphatically shifted-between in a production by Matthew Dunster which captures the hectic changes in this modern world, the piece is intensely theatrical. The immediacy of these characters several feet away and going through the experience of their lives is vital.

There’s a thrill in testing the edges of legality for Robert Gwilym’s financial knight, an equal amoral excitement in Elexi Walker’s Kim, the sub-prime American interloper with cliff-edge bravado he takes on-board, while Alecky Blythe as his PA has the stand-offish formality of the capitalist’s hanger-on.

With degrees of humanity left intact, Kellie Bright and Marianne Oldham show how wives are affected by husbands’ fortunes through the impact on homes and children. At the centre of the conniving, Tim Delap’s imposingly elegant self-preservation has a toughness that just about sees him through low-points to greater heights, when he can satisfy the ultimate power-thrill: having his PA go out to buy his shirts. For what else but a new shirt provides the front for such a person?

Political drama, social satire, family saga and crime story combine in Pierpan’s impressive, and impressively-presented, play.

Emma: Alecky Blythe.
Fen Knowles: Kellie Bright.
Andrezj: Max Calandrew.
Edward Knowles: Tim Delap.
Sir Roger Glynn: Robert Gwilym.
Jack Tilly: Ben Lee.
Interviewer/Jack’s Lawyer/Paula: Claire Lichie.
Chris: William Mannering.
Linda Tilly: Marianne Oldham.
Henry: David Partridge.
Kim Lopez: Elexi Walker.

Director: Matthew Dunster.
Designer: Alison McDowall.
Lighting: Chloe Kenward.
Sound: Emma Laxton.
Voice: Michaela Kennen.
Hair: Anna Morena.
Assistant director: Samuel Wood.

2012-10-29 00:52:41

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