Frenzy of the stockmarketRachel Mitton with permission for Varsity

From the moment the curtains went up, I was struck by the technical ambition of this year’s CUADC freshers play. The prologue was a film, projected onto the back of the stage. It was a clever introduction from the directorial team, Charlie McGuire and James Allen, and an immediate pointer to the idea of the play as satirical. As we move to the opening stage image, which was strikingly powerful, most, if not all, of the cast were on stage. We are immersed in the world of the London Stock Exchange; telephone lines, polished black shoes, white shirts and all.

“We are immersed in the world of the London Stock Exchange”

Caryl Churchill’s Serious Money was first staged in 1987 and although the play does show its age at certain points, its anti-capitalist sentiment is one that resonates today. Jaysol Doy’s Zackerman commands the stage during his monologues, aided by the motif of a spotlight, cleverly placed by the lighting designer Niklas Todt. He purports at one point that “You make money out of money”. This statement rings true to the stock exchange settings of the play and the wider societies in which the play is set and received, drawing into question the notion of capitalism itself, or at least trying to!

The plot is clearly not linear, explored also through the multi-rolling, following the scandal and death of Jake (Annie Rainbow) as a sort of framing for the play. Meanwhile, his sister, Scilla(Annie Fogden), searches to find some truth in the scandal that embroiled her brother, before eventually taking a job in the business herself. There is also a company takeover scandal headed by Corman (Rafa Griso Dryer) but masterminded by the character of Zackerman, also controlled by Izzy Lane’s Jacinta (You see where I’m going with the plot being confusing!). The actors do a great job at telling this story. There were moments of humour, notably Mae Cook’s father character, Duckett. But there were also moments of despair, anguish and drama.

“Its anti-capitalist sentiment is one that resonates today”

It would be wrong of me not to mention that Aidán Sinclair’s sound effectively underscores the play as it adds perfectly to the tension and atmosphere, guiding the audience’s emotions and reactions to the play. There was even a song! As we drew to the interval, the characters broke the fourth wall for a moment of madness and chanted, in what seemed to be a drug-fuelled frenzy of London’s stock exchange.

Sure, the play is unpolished at times: the transitions are slow, the multi rolling gets confusing and leaves space where many smaller actors could have had bigger roles, but it must be remembered that for many involved in the production this is a first stab in Cambridge theatre. With roughly three weeks to fill the ADC stage, it was no easy feat and Charlie McGuire did incredibly well with such a tough script.


Mountain View

Ambitious risks pay off in Serious Money

By the end, as we returned to the projector for an almost movie montage moment, I was reminded that I was watching a show that a group of people had come together to create. They were having fun on stage, enjoying themselves in the audience’s company, and giving us a good time too!

Serious Money is showing at the ADC Theatre from 14-18 November at 19:45