Roaring Trade (Park, Finsbury Park)
Steve Thompson's satirical play about power, lust and ambition opens at the Park Theatre
The moment may have gone for yet another new play about bad city boys and the stock market racket but satirical playwright Steve Thompson delivers a fairly robust trading floor shoot-out between Cockney chancer Donny (Nick Moran) and public school new boy Olly (Timothy George), refereed by a svelte bitch of a party girl, Jess (Lesley Harcourt), who is cleverer than either of them.
There's also the drinking, the sexual brutality and the obsession with designer labels we recognise from American Psycho – though a stroll through the Square Mile any evening at dusk (on your way to the Barbican, say) will update you instantly – and the rancid air of macho, gun-slinging competitiveness.
Thompson springs a surprise with his opening scene of sexual humiliation, and we're never quite sure whether Donny is here auditioning for the job or playing office party games. He boasts of making £70m out of the war in Syria, and meets his young son (William Nye) to explain what he does and warn him of its vacuous amorality. Another critical thread is woven in the story of a fall-over drunk trader PJ, startlingly well played by Michael McKell, who blows the lot (holiday this year in Brussels, not Barbados) and retires bitterly from the fray with his demanding, finally accepting, wife (Melanie Gutteridge).
Alan Cohen directs niftily enough on an office/trading floor design by Grant Hicks backed by a colourful Canary Wharf screen of the high rise canyon, advertising hoardings and even the occasional little plane flying past in the blue yonder.
Donny and Olly outbid and out-wit each other, but the new boy is playing a crafty long game of a company take-over that is exposed when…let's just say there's a lot of irresponsible risk-taking, too much reliance on internet rumour and a distinct whiff of insider trading and market manipulation. So, nothing new there, then.
Moran gives a really fine performance of concentrated venom with a soft side, especially good at opening up the class war rift with Olly and even suggesting that his own brand of barrow boy recklessness is preferable to the calculating "entitled" spivvery of daddy's boy Olly and his family in cahoots with a Dutch bank.
Although the bonds are dropping as fast as Volkswagen (topical sick joke), the play nonetheless sounds slightly past its sell-by date. But the acting is first rate, Moran's Donny a fully-rounded, well-observed creation and Harcourt's Jess a market vampire who knows exactly what her booty's worth. As she gnomically remarks, "Queen Elizabeth I bought an entire nation by flirting with the boys."
Roaring Trade runs at the Park Theatre until 24 October.