Street-wise bond trader Donny boasts that his family was wealthy in iron and steel: his mother used to iron and his father used to steal. That's one of many good jokes in Steve Thompson's zippy satire on the kind of commercial activity we're now looking at with more loathing than distaste; have we really arrived in this mess because people were making too much money out of bidding for stuff they didn't need or make?
Though the play doesn't really operate in the shadow of global crisis, and already seems slightly old hat, it certainly captures the competitiveness and back-stabbing that characterised the hedge fund world and City trading of the past 20 years. Thompson cleverly distils the feeding frenzy in the Square Mile into the office politics of one particular bank and a handful of dealers.
Donny, played with a nice line in cynical, faux-yobbish deviousness by Andrew Scott, is the head-hunted prey of Phoebe Waller-Bridge's posh bitch Jess in the first scene. She wants to see what he's made of in a kneeling position, and once his shirt's off and the tie fixed like a dog collar round his neck their instant coition is only partly interrupted by middle-aged PJ (Nicolas Tennant) rolling in from the pub.
Jess uses flirtatious sex as a means to a bidding end. Donny operates with sheer thud and blunder, while the Cambridge-educated Spoon (Christian Roe, an impressive newcomer with an air of belonging to the Fox showbiz dynasty) is brought in to challenge Donny in the bid for bonuses.
The upshot is a daring attempt to hijack the firm itself (this badly misfires) and the expulsion of poor old PJ as the heat rises and threatens meltdown. Slotted in between the almost foreign-language scenes of traders' bluff and shouting at LCD screens are some tender encounters between Donny and his young son from a broken marriage.
PJ is left with an ultimate insult, a bonus for Bruges: not enough for Barbados and too much for Bournemouth. Roxana Silbert's production, co-presented by the Soho and the touring company Paines Plough, fizzes along for 90 minutes, lit up with neon city lights and a soundtrack by Matt McKenzie suggesting a collapse we already know to be only too real.
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