Unconvinced By True Stories From The Trading Floor
Four bond traders are caged up in a Canary Wharf office, living for making their next million at the touch of a button. As Grant Hicks’s computer screen set flickers with endless green numbers we’re anticipating what’s promised by our writer Steve Thompson; ritual humiliation and other true horrifying stories from the trading floor.
What emerges is not really this, yet it’s not really anything much else either. Our traders are reaching the end of their own individual tethers: Donny (Nick Moran), whose only genuine moment of elation is when he’s explaining bonds trading to his small son through the use of ketchup sachets, is evidently trapped in a limited job. This could have been made more of, such as when he starts throwing m&ms around after making a huge deal, literally a big kid playing with ‘other people’s money’. But a rather unconvincing and sappier story of his fractured relationship with his son, and how he tries to salvage it, is where things go instead.
Similarly, the frustration we sense in Michael McKell’s defeated alcoholic PJ, is not so much with his inability to enthuse his wife with his new-found love of the simple things in life (seeing castles and yachting) after too many years in the office, as with the clichéd scope of his role. His weaving and drunk serving of burned sloppy lasagne was really very funny, but you sense it was over amped, as if he was a bit lost in this flimsy production.
The play just doesn’t know if it wants to be an exploration of excess in a specific period of time in London, or following fleshed out characters’ lives and their attempts at redemption. In fact, we weren’t really sure what time we were in. There are laboured references to finding trading tips on ‘the internet’ as if it had just been invented, mention of a filo-fax and a joke about the Volkswagen fiasco, yet we’re meant to be at the closing of the last recession. Jess (Lesley Harcourt) using the promise of sex to succeed at work also seems limited in imagination and a bit 80s. She's also the only character denied a back story, functioning as the cardboard cut-out of a power woman.
Fun and enjoyable enough with some spirited performances, but Roaring Trade began with a roar and quickly proved to be more of a whimper.
Roaring Trade is at Park Theatre, Clifton Terrace N4 3JP, until 24 October. Tickets: £15-£25. Londonist saw this production on a complimentary ticket.
Last Updated 02 October 2015