Other People’s Money at Southwark Playhouse
Other People’s Money opened on Broadway in 1989 and subsequently received the Hollywood treatment with its film incarnation, starring Danny DeVito and Gregory Peck, in 1991. So does a play very much of its time still hold up in today’s continuously changing world? The answer is yes.
The Wire and Cable Company of New England is a sleepy, family-run business. When “Larry the Liquidator” threatens to bring some corporate pillage to the village, small town ideas are confronted with the Wall Street way and ultimately, the price of staying true to moral values is tested.
The traverse staging summons us into the world of the play. Corporate finance may not be a world we are entirely familiar with, but the assured performances of the cast allow us to view it through the eyes of the five characters we follow. Rob Locke is perfect as the ruthless, money-grabbing Garfinkle, comical and cringe-worthy in equal measure. He is complemented by Michael Brandon’s Jorgenson, who invites us in with his somewhat sentimental, nuanced and heartfelt characterisation. Amy Burke is captivating as the cut-throat lawyer with a conscience and the scenes shared with Lin Blakley as her mother and long-time employee of Jorgenson are a delight to behold. Mark Rose effortlessly entwines himself around the two parties as William, his performance promoting debate amongst the audience as to who is right and who is wrong, forcing us to question what we would do if in their situation. Brutal and blunt, Other People’s Money also offers numerous laugh-out-loud moments whilst at the same time being thought-provoking and poignant. There is little respite for the audience, who are required to remain active spectators throughout the performance.
In spite of some heavy-handed dialogue, often laced with financial and legal terminology, director Katharine Farmer implements succinct transitions between scenes. This allows for a grippingly fast pace throughout, which is enabled by Sam Waddington’s lighting design.
With two of the five cast members being women, the issue of feminism is aptly explored. It’s interesting to consider how female empowerment was seen in the 1980s, especially in a “Wall Street world” where misogyny was prevalent. Yes, things have changed, but we find ourselves asking just how much progress has actually been achieved within the last 30 years.
The play serves as a fable against greed and it’s interesting how many of the themes are relevant and relatable to a 2019 audience. What is most noteworthy here, though, is the close examination of values and the price we pay for having and holding onto them. Can morality survive modernity? This is perhaps one of many questions you’ll be left pondering as you exit Southwark Playhouse.
Photo: Craig Sugden
Other People’s Money is at Southwark Playhouse from 17th April until 11th May 2019. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.