Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Review: OTHER PEOPLE'S MONEY, Southwark Playhouse

Review: OTHER PEOPLE'S MONEY, Southwark Playhouse

Review: OTHER PEOPLE'S MONEY, Southwark Playhouse The stretch limo, the chalkstripe suit, the Bronx vowels - Lawrence Garfinkle hardly needs his nickname, "Larry the Liquidator" to announce his intentions when he strides into Jorgi Jorgenson's office. He's there because his new-fangled computer, Carmen (yes, people used to give them names), has identified Jorgi's company's stock as undervalued and Larry intends to buy it up and then salami slice the company, liquidating most of its assets. It's the 80s - this sort of behaviour was once shocking.

And it couldn't be more 80s if the play walked up to you wearing shoulder pads offsetting big hair, singing "We Built This City". Jerry Sterner's play opened off Broadway around the time that Caryl Churchill's Serious Money played in the West End, Tom Wolfe's The Bonfire of the Vanities filled shelves at Waterstones and Channel Four's Upline premiered on television. All were satires on the venality of the newly unfettered financial industry's Masters of the Universe and all came with a large dose of explanatory narrative.

Somehow - and this only emerges in the rear view mirror - they also developed their own discourse, a macho, male language of winners and losers, a black-and-white world of white men. Too much testosterone: not enough empathy - today's social media just fans those flames from a generation ago.

Jorgi is older than that and very old school in his ways - a Republican, whose hero is the Democrat Harry S Truman and who quotes John F Kennedy - the kind of man who knows the value of everything and the price of nothing. Harold MacMillan would recognise him were he British.

The collision of small-town paternalist capitalism with its fire-breathing offspring, Wall Street's free market, was never going to end well for all Larry's Ayn Rand-inspired lectures on the morality of money. As we know, the meek did not inherit the earth.

Director Katherine Farmer keeps the pace high and is rewarded with some good performances that alleviate the sheer familiarity of the stereotypes on show. Michael Brandon's Jorgi and his devoted PA, Lin Blakley's Bea, play off each other well - we believe their 37-year-old relationship and wonder how deep it runs. Mark Rose lurks in the shadows as William, the Number 2 who might become Number 0 unless he looks out for himself.

But the sparks really fly when Amy Burke's ambitious lawyer, Kate, locks horns with Rob Locke's ruthless Larry to discover that they may be on opposite sides in this deal, but they both understand and believe in the game. And they know that they'll win in the long run.

There are plenty of laughs along the way, stemming from some sharp dialogue, and it would be wrong to think that these matters are no longer relevant - ask a Debenhams employee. But I couldn't help wondering about the wisdom of reviving what is, frankly, a period piece. That Jorgi's company was sunk by the new coming technology - fibre optics, would you believe! - suggests that we need new plays to talk to us about the avarice that is as old as time itself.

Other People's Money continues at Southwark Playhouse until 11 May.

Photo Craig Sugden

Photos: See Aimee Lou Wood & More in Rehearsals for CABARET Photo
Get a first look at Aimee Lou Wood, John McCrea and Nathan Ives-Moiba in rehearsals for CABARET at the Kit Kat Club!

Christina Bianco Makes Pheasantry Concert Debut
in London Next Month Photo
Internationally acclaimed singer, actor and impressionist, Christina Bianco makes her Pheasantry debut with her first solo concert in over a year.  

Tickets from £30 for MEDEA Starring Sophie Okonedo Photo
What could turn a woman from a lover into a destroyer of love?

Drag Cast Announced For ACIDS REIGN at VAULT Festival Photo
Relish Theatre brings a new drag cabaret play about the climate crisis and its impact on the queer community to the world-famous VAULT Festival.  From award-winning writer James McDermott (Eastenders; Time and Tide, Park Theatre), with musical direction from Olivier-nominated Joe Beighton (SIX: The Musical), Acid’s Reign will debut at VAULT Festival at their new 125 seat cabaret venue The Flair Ground.

From This Author - Gary Naylor

Gary Naylor is chief London reviewer for BroadwayWorld ( and feels privileged to... (read more about this author)

Review: PICASSO, The Playground TheatreReview: PICASSO, The Playground Theatre
January 27, 2023

Peter Tate gives us a bullish Picasso, with his women projected on video, but they do need more of a voice to balance the narrative

Review: HAVE I NONE, Golden Goose TheatreReview: HAVE I NONE, Golden Goose Theatre
January 25, 2023

Dystopian play, set 54 years in the future, raises questions about the direction of consumerism today

Review: THE ELEPHANT SONG, Park TheatreReview: THE ELEPHANT SONG, Park Theatre
January 24, 2023

Nicolas Billon's Canadian play has dated somewhat, but still engages its audience on its UK premiere

Review: FAGIN'S LAST HOUR, White Bear TheatreReview: FAGIN'S LAST HOUR, White Bear Theatre
January 19, 2023

James Hyland is Dicken's Fagin, decrepit and distraught, in his cell on the way to the gallows

January 18, 2023

An extraordinary, powerful, moving multimedia work that gives voice to Rosemary Kennedy, denied it for over 60 years.