Adapted from the original script written by Jerry Sterner in 1989, this production of Other People’s Money was fantastically entertaining whilst also packing a final damning punch. The plot centres on a small town family business run by Jorgy (Michael Brandon), fighting a take-over from the big city corporate raider Lawrence Garfinkle (Rob Locke) wanting to sell it off for parts, writes Hannah Kelly.
As the two businessmen fight it out there is always the danger that the Wall Street lingo could have been a barrier to the general layman viewer; however, the script managed to combine wit and clarity without patronising the audience or leaving them in the dark. As well as the finely tuned pace and comic timing, the staging was also a strong anchor in the production. Considering the small size of the theatre and the tricky placing of the audience, these obstacles were overcome with good lighting and a simple, but effective set made up of two opposing desks.
Mark Rose and Michael Brandon particularly shone in this production as the two key protagonists battling it out across the stage; on the other hand their female counterparts, Lin Blakely (playing Bea Sullivan) and Amy Burke (playing Kate Sullivan), though strong personalities, were perhaps slightly less nuanced characters. Mark Rose as the narrator figure William Coles was clearly intended as a bridge between either side of the fight. Though his amoral stance provided a subtle amount of grey to the otherwise stark black and white of the baddie and goodie fight that the play could have fallen in to, there was a clear bias towards the condemnation of the dirty Wall Street antics.
Other People’s Money manages to weave some big questions into a play that entertains and educates, reminding me of the real power of theatre to challenge its viewer to rethink structures that we can easily take for granted. The epilogue delivered by Coles left one with a lump in the throat.
Southwark Playhouse, 7-85 Newington Causeway, SE1 6BD until 11 May. Times: 8pm. Admission: £14 – £22 £18 (concs). 020 7407 0234 www.southwarkplayhouse.co.uk