Serious Money, Bristol Old Vic Theatre School at Circomedia

CARYL Churchill’s 1987 play Serious Money was a smash hit when it opened at the Royal Court, and now, quarter of a century later, it is just as powerful now when audiences can see how weirdly prophetic it was.

Set in the time when the London money markets exploded in coke and insomnia fuelled mania, the old school (Eton, Oxford and the Home Counties into the family stockbroking and banking businesses) was being torn out root and branch by brash young street traders hungry for fast squillions.

The play is a fast and furious look at life on the Stock Exchange floor, surrounded by computerised displays, and in the boardroom of a ruthless money maker determined to buy up a successful Northern business, by wheeling and dealing with financial whizz kids around the globe.

There are times when it looks like a murder mystery, as Scilla Todd, daughter of a former mover and shaker, tries to find out how her secretive and nervous fixer brother Jake, met his death.

But the investigation is subsumed in the welter of ambition, machination and testosterone, as Scilla tries to prove she’s just as good as the guys.

By the end the arch baddie is promised a knighthood, deals are done to hide the criminal activities, and, with five more years of Thatcherism to look forward to, it’s more of the same in store.

And WE know that the following Labour administration was just as unwilling and unable to curb the lust for lucre that has turned much of our society into a selfish, aggressive, angry group of people with no discernable moral compass.

The 15-strong cast of student actors in this stunning production, directed by Roger Haines and performed in the round at Circomedia until 16th November, mostly play multiple roles, relishing the chance to create monstrously defined characters as the excitement reaches a climax.

It is an ensemble piece, and there is no faulting the company, taking on various accents, styles and ages with consummate skill

Notable are Harry de Moraville’s narrator, the American banker Zac, Wil Coban’s vicious Corman, Crystal Condi’s South American billionaire Jacinta, Paul Heath’s Greville and Molly Hanson as Scilla,

This play takes a powerful tilt at the establishment, the Glass Ceiling and the social ills that followed the free-for-all that was billed as giving us that all-important “choice.”

Several of the company performed in the BOVTS summer tour of Moonfleet, and it will be interesting to watch them in the next few months of their studies before they graduate from the world-famous theatre school next summer.


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