Theatre Delicatessen’s current pop-up theatre space amongst the classy shops and restaurants of Marylebone High Street feels like an ideal setting for their latest offering in association with The Lab Collective, The Pinstripe Trilogy, which examines the world of high finance.
In the first play Matador it’s the life of a smart suited city trader – played engagingly by Neil Connolly - that’s under scrutiny. Holding his jacket to expose its red silk lining he makes passes at an imaginary bull before inviting the audience from the dark corners of the room to join him in the light. It’s an intimate encounter with his world of expense account lunches and sports cars as he throws questions at the audience and uses their first names. His world is built upon the now despised debt trading and so far all feels familiar. However when he reminds the audience that they are consumers too and have him to thank for the credit boom that made their spending possible it’s an uncomfortable moment.
Next The Bean Counter delves into the world of a tax inspector (Mark Fairclough). An audience member takes the hot seat to have his tax form analysed. A witty exploration of the pros and cons of paying tax develops with the audience again encouraged to join in. Tax evasion by major companies is a hot topic and of course condemned. But when the inspector berates the hapless interviewee for trying to pass off underwear as an allowable expense it’s a point well made - everyone wants to reduce their tax if they can.
In the third piece Trust Fund the Fund’s CEO (Emma Britton) gives a presentation on an opportunity to invest in gifted children. It’s an unsettling idea made more so by the interruption of a parent (Matthew Haigh) of one such ‘asset’. However this attempt to explore the relationship between philanthropy and investment is the least convincing of the three plays. All investors want payback and the piece would have real bite if this had been explored further.
Sets for all three plays are basic but make good use of the former BBC offices. The lighting design is particularly effective in the first one. While they fall short of being ground-breaking, the plays sit well together and do challenge an audience to think about their own attitudes to some familiar topics.
- Louise Gooding