Review: Roaring Trade

City boys suffer, but do we care?


By John Nathan, January 15, 2009
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Soho Theatre, London W1

Andrew Scott embodies the Square Mile’s culture of greed as the money-obsessed bond dealer in Roaring Trade

Andrew Scott embodies the Square Mile’s culture of greed as the money-obsessed bond dealer in Roaring Trade

Playwright Steve Thompson has carved a niche in exploring industries which affect the way we live. In Damages, it was the tabloid press; in Whipping It Up, it was politics; and in Roaring Trade it is the City bond traders who embody the culture of greed that brought the economy to its knees.

Thompson presents no heroes. Donny (Andrew Scott) is king of the trading floor, Jess (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) is his colleague who flirts her way into deals, PJ (Nicolas Tennant) is a burnt-out fortysomething and Spoon the well-connected young gun fresh out of Cambridge. If Thompson looked for the redeeming qualities in those in thrall to money, he failed to find any. In his author’s note he gives thanks to the generosity and warmth of the money-markets worker who helped with his research, but there is no evidence of these qualities in his play.

Perhaps that is the lesson. But we care little about the fate of people who live by that creed coined by Gore Vidal, that to be truly happy it is not enough to succeed, your friends have to fail too.

Still, Thompson does a good job in explaining how money is made without producing anything of value. And Roxana Silbert’s Paines Plough production cracks along with wit and insight. “You’re like a lab rat,” says PJ to Donny after failing to get him to talk about anything but money. “You would die in the real world.” These days the spike in the mortality rate of City traders must be sharper than share prices in a bull market.

(Tel: 020 7478 0100)

    Last updated: 9:38am, January 15 2009