Nabokov present four short plays contemplating our relationship with money – what it stands for, what it motivates us to do, and how it affects our perceptions of ourselves and society. Monetary fixation is certainly topical given the current economic climate, and also ubiquitous in all the tiresome, vaguely patronising “credit crunch-friendly” coverage so frequently featured in broadsheets and magazines. For precisely this reason, the topic is a challenging one to present to audiences in an engaging and accessible manner.
New efforts by Jessica Hynes, Brad Birch, Jay Luxembourg and James Graham navigate the theme of money in varied and sometimes surprising ways – from the pre war Fitzrovia Radio Hour with its clipped accents and array of entertainingly-acted audio effects, to a futuristic society and an ill-fated bank heist. The first two plays, featuring the radio drama and an impassioned, brutally honest soliloquy by an unrepentant banker, are far stronger than a rather limp second half which focuses on two old acquaintances and a bank robbery, respectively.
Despite the writers’ best efforts, the central messages of all four plays do tend to come across as a little preachy, with a bizarre endnote of the radio hour segment even chastising the theatre audience in a sardonic manner which ends up coming across as more than a little precious and affected. Nonetheless, despite predictable denouements and some truly terrible guitar playing/singing, Money succeeds in being an entertaining, generally well-acted exploration of the thing that inexorably makes the world go round.