Review: Serious Money, Radio 3

“We will make a profit at the right time in the right place, with an smile on our very acceptable face”‘

Just a quickie for this Caryl Churchill adaptation. This most linguistically adept of playwrights is a natural fit for the radio, the focus able to settle on the unique way in which she is able to utilise the written word and in Serious Money, it is her use of rhyming couplets that gains real prominence in this medium. But it is her subject matter that really stands out and makes one wonder why a revival hasn’t been mounted recently. Set just after the Big Bang of 1986, Churchill explores the impact of deregulation on the financial markets, how it gave rise to a culture of dodgy high-stakes insider trading and in this case, set the scene for some particularly rapacious Third World exploitation.

Emma Harding’s adaptation gives brilliant life to this jargon-filled, profanity-fuelled world and whilst it may initially seem like a dizzying whirl of barely definable characters, a method to the madness becomes clear, one’s ear becomes accustomed to the poetic, yet shallow, language they speak, their mouths full of empty promises and worthless proclamations as they pursue the greedy mantra of the 1980s. There’s a murder too, but that hardly seems a major point in the end, we don’t even find out who did it but it matters not a jot. Continue reading “Review: Serious Money, Radio 3”

Review: These Shining Lives, Park Theatre

“You’re acting like a guy”

In some ways, These Shining Lives seems like something of an odd choice to open the Park Theatre, a new London theatre in Finsbury Park, as what it seems to do is just add another solid drama to an overcrowded marketplace. That’s not to deny the quality of this piece of theatre but rather a hope that the programming of this venue is able to carve its own niche. Melanie Marnich’s play retreads familiar ground in telling the story of the women working in a 1920s Chicago factory who painted luminous radium paint onto watch dials, licking their brushes as they went, not realising that they are poisoning themselves.

It is certainly acted in a most engaging fashion. Charity Wakefield – not on our stages often enough – is radiant as Kate who becomes the reluctant leader of the cause as it slowly becomes clear what is going on, fragile but capable of bright emotion and fierce determination, well accompanied by the bright Alec Newman as her husband. Nathalie Carrington reveals herself as a luminous performer as the wise-cracking Pearl, Honeysuckle Weeks shines as the seductive Charlotte and Melanie Bond has a certain glow as Frances.


But radioactive puns aside, there’s little of substance to hang the acting on – even with just four key characters, two of the women are poorly characterised and Marnich adds little of dramatic interest to the story as a whole. This is a tale that is appallingly fascinating – management’s lack of concern about the health of its employees versus its profit margin remains as true as it ever was – but the play brings nothing new to it, the dialogue pedestrian, the structure uninspired. Loveday Ingram’s production is solid and simple but one can’t help but wish that the Park had gone for a bolder opening gambit. 

Running time: 90 minutes (without interval) 

Booking until 9th June