Other People’s Money, directed by Katharine Farmer, has come to Southwark Playhouse. The play, written by Jerry Sterner in 1989, shows the greed and excesses of Wall Street in the 1980s by pitting it against a small town family business. When it opened off-Broadway it won an Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Off-Broadway Play; it was then adapted into the 1991 Hollywood film starring Danny DeVito.
Thirty years later, the play still resonates. The Wire and Cable Company of New England is a family business in a sleepy town run by Jory (Michael Brandon) supported by his loyal assistant Bea (Lin Blakley) and manager Coles (Mark Rose). The company finds itself the target of Larry (Rob Locke) who has an interest in their shares and their assets. Larry’s attitude to life, food and investments is very different from Jory’s and the two men find themselves at loggerheads. Enter Kate (Amy Burke), a hot shot lawyer from New York who also happens to be Bea’s daughter and is enticed to take on the case by her mother’s pleas to help her hometown. In the battle for control of the company, it boils down to the price of values rather than the price of goods for sale. As Larry says, “I love money. I love money more than the things it can buy. There’s only one thing I love more than money. You know what that is? Other people’s money.”
The story plays well in the Little space at Southwark Playhouse. Jory and Larry’s desks face each other across the length of the stage, their clash of attitudes and worlds shown in the state of their workplaces. The characters challenge each other as well as the audience with asides to the room. The stakes get higher and Kate’s negotiations with Larry and Jory become ever more charged. It’s not clear until the very end who will be the winner in this deal and the power doesn’t always sit where you think it will; the two female characters have a lot to do here and are more than just decoration.
The starry cast do a good job of bringing the world of 1980s America to life in this darkly funny play. You need to listen carefully to follow some of the finance jargon but it’s lifted by the lighter moments. There’s more going on here than just a business deal.
Reviewed by Rhiannon Evans
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