Roaring Trade, Park Theatre, review: ‘Sinister and hilarious’

Nick Moran in Roaring Trade. Picture: Robert Workman

Nick Moran in Roaring Trade. Picture: Robert Workman - Credit: Robert Workman Photographer

This gripping banker satire is worth investing in, says David Winskill.

We’re in an office in a bank in Canary Wharf witnessing a strange job interview. A dominant HR lady is putting a snivelling applicant through his humiliated paces. “Take your shirt off!” she commands her kneeling slave: many in the audience gently sigh as Nick Moran (Donny) complies.

Of course, I remember Nick when he was just a skinny student learning the ropes over the hill at Mountview – but he made an impression. He shows why over the next 90 minutes in this electric play about money, sex, age, class and morality.

The interview is simply fun for Jess (the sexy and knowing Lesley Harcourt) – foreplay before the real action: making lots of money. She is a woman in the hardcore male world of bond dealers where you’re only as good (or bad) as your last trade and the size of your bonus is as important as the size of your penis.

Older than Donny, Michael McKell’s brilliantly observed PJ is seeing his bonus shrink and his high maintenance wife is not happy. He is burned out on a rich diet of adrenalin, champagne and Red Bull. McKell’s carefully managed drunken disintegration is masterful.

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A new pup enters the arena: a graduate from Jesus College who attracts Donny’s bullying and class-ridden sarcasm. But Spoon (the engaging Timothy George) is a bright lad with cunning who will not be cowed. One fine day, he makes a big trading surplus, quickly followed by a dark day when Donny makes a thumping loss and is suddenly toast.

The crown has passed to to a younger, newer alpha male ... and so will Jess.

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Donny is suspicious and accuses Spoon of insider trading, using his privileged connections to his advantage. In a world where shorting (thoughtfully explained by Donny to his son) is acceptable but listening to people in the know isn’t, the audience is left wondering where moral boundaries begin and end.

Perfectly cast, sinister and hilarious in parts, clever set design, terrific acting and direction and bang up to date. My advice: buy buy buy!

Rating: 4/5 stars

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