5 great Plays about Money
24th Jun 2016
Serious Money by Caryl Churchill, with music by Ian Dury.
Winner of the 1987 Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Play, the story takes place around the stock market troubles in Britain during the early years of Mrs Thatcher’s premiership, specifically the London International Financial Futures and Options Exchange (LIFFE). Including subjects such as murder, money-laundering, investigations by the DTI, foreign-backed takeovers, the play is notable for being largely written in rhyming couplets, complete with songs written by Ian Dury (minus The Blockheads).
Tons of Money by Sir Alan Ayckbourn
Alan Ayckbourn's deliciously funny re-write of the first of the famous Aldwych farces was first produced at The National Theatre with a cast including Michael Gambon and Simon Cadell. The story is of an unsuccessful inventor who inherits the life interest in a fortune which is to revert on his death to his cousin George Maitland. As Cousin George is thought to have died abroad, the inventor has the brilliant idea of “dying” so that he can resurrect himself as his cousin and avoid paying his enormous debts. Complications arise in the form of George's wife, another Maitland imposter (the butler's brother) and finally the real George Maitland himself!
Other People’s Money by Jerry Sterner
Wall Street takeover artist Lawrence Garfinkle's computer is going tilt over the undervalued stock of New England Wire & Cable. If the stockholders back his take over, they will make a bundle but what will happen to the 1200 employees and the community when he liquidates the assets? Opposing the rapacious financier are the genial man who has run the company since the year one and his chief operations officer. They bring in a young lawyer who specializes in fending off takeovers. Should she use green mail? Find a white knight? Employ a shark repellent? This compelling drama explores whether corporate raiders are creatures from the Black Lagoon of capitalism or realists
Enron by Lucy Prebble
One of the most infamous scandals in financial history became a theatrical epic. Mixing classical tragedy with savage comedy, the play shows how the Texan energy giant, Enron, moved from a model of the future to a bankrupt disaster with debts of $38bn. Inspired by real-life and using music, movement and video, the spellbinding first production in 2009 was directed by Rupert Goold, with a cast that included Samuel West Amanda Drew and Tim Pigott Smith, and was described an ultra-theatrical demonstration of corporate madness at work.
The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
Staged on the Wirral in 2013 in an unforgettable production by Hillbark Players, Shakespeare’s tale was written between 1596 and 1598, and centres around the story of a merchant in 16th-century Venice who is forced to default on a large loan provided by an abused Jewish moneylender. Though classified as a ‘comedy’ in the First Folio, and sharing certain aspects with Shakespeare’s other romantic comedies, the play is perhaps most remembered for its dramatic scenes - particularly the spellbinding ‘courtroom’ scene - and is best known for the character of Shylock, alongside a number of famous speeches and phrases that have been in common usage ever since: "If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?"; “The quality of mercy is not strained: It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven...”; “All that glisters is not gold...”