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  • Theatre, Drama
  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

Bankers run wild in Beth Steel's enjoyably overwrought political thriller

Beth Steel’s newie is a bad bankers epic that pretty much succeeds in having its cake and snorting it. It’s a fictionalised account of the US banking system’s reckless lending to Latin America in the ’70s and ’80s that wins you over with all the most enjoyable ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ clichés: over-entitled young men tooting enormous lines of gak while shouting things like ‘I don’t need sleep, I don’t do lunchbreaks, I am an animal, I am insane’. But it also has a conscience and fairly lucidly succeeds in putting the boot into the IMF and western banking system generally. 

It’s messy: Steel pretty much gets carried away in semi-ironic celebration of the genre, and Andrew D Edwards’s nifty Perspex traverse stage is as distracting as it is impressive. There is some very clunky subtext. It is not ‘Enron’.

But still: Anna Ledwich’s production is not only a blast, but genuinely educational if you’re not especially familiar with this episode in US banking history (I’m not). It follows wet-behind-the-ears young banker John (Sean Delaney) as he takes the time-honoured route from office whipping boy to personal financier to dodgy dictators to architect of the solution that will save western banking’s collective ass when Latin America defaults. And after two hours of larks, Steel is extremely good at forensically dissecting the appalling cynical salvage operation. 

Parallels to contemporary Greece are unnecessary, though it kind of sums up this somewhat overwrought play that Steel lobs them in anyway. The characters are all basically caricatures of American alpha males (with a couple of more sensible alpha females lobbed in), and the device by which John’s bubbling sense of guilt is manifested is completely preposterous. But ‘Labyrinth’ embraces its silliness while making a serious point, and it’s great fun to watch an entire cast chew up the scenery with such gusto.

Andrzej Lukowski
Written by
Andrzej Lukowski


£10-£35. Runs 2hr 35min
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