Friday, 26 April 2013

Capitalist Pantomime

If you liked Clyborne Park, about social mobility in the US, and enjoyed Enron on the elaborate frauds of high finance, you ought to like  THE LOW ROAD by Clyborne’s Bruce Norris, billed as a ‘fable of free market economics and cut-throat capitalism’, and currently running at the Royal Court theatre.  Hardly a  fable (no moral conclusion) more a picaresque assemblage of satiric scenes on the theme of business history in the emerging US, with Adam Smith as guide, preaching self-interest as the beneficent engine of wealth creation through exploitation of individuals, whether by footpads or investment advisers.  The central character is a white entrepreneur, loosely based on Tom Jones with a nod to Candide, whose accountancy skills line his own pockets while fleecing others, but who also suffers the wheel of financial fortune. Fictive ancestor of a near-namesake, young Trumpett’s 18th century tale is entwined with that of John Blanke, plucked from the plantation to be heir to an English earldom (don’t ask) before being re-enslaved, thus adding race to the mix.  The scenes tumble in an increasingly pantomimic manner, punctuated by dramatic explosions, as when Occupy-style protestors overwhelm a global free market conference or aliens descend in a spaceship.  If it’s all rather incoherent, then so is capitalist history, though sharper politics and a more Brechtian approach would have better served the energetic actors.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds intriguing, Jan, will have to try to get to this. Thanks for letting us know about it in such a colourful and informative way!