"Serious Money," Caryl Churchill's satirical slice of English financial life, has made the move to Broadway with its ferocity intact.
Theatergoers still may not fully understand its arcane plot, full of references to British and American financial machinations, but they can't miss the theatricality and intensity of director Max Stafford-Clark's breakneck
production.The play, which reopened recently at the Royale Theater after a two-month run off-Broadway, is a cynical celebration of greed. The characters applaud the making of what they call "serious money," those big bucks, pounds, yen, marks, or pesos that spell the ultimate in success or power.
To the playwright's credit, she doesn't dilute the bile by giving the audience any people to sympathize with or cheer. These aggressive characters are all nasty, and even will resort to murder if it will make money.
Churchill's tale, directed at a frantic, rock-video pace, is basically a whodunit. It asks: Who murdered Jake Todd, the young, upper-curst commercial paper dealer?
Was it Marylou Baines, the ambitious American arbitrageur; Billy Corman, a corporate raider who plunders for power; Jacinta Condor, a Peruvian businesswoman who deals in tin and cocaine, or Zackerman, an amoral banker willing to sell his services to the highest bidder?
They are among the characters Churchill puts on stage in quick succession. For the most part, the new, mostly American cast handles the machine-gun patter and almost choreographed staging with aplomb.
Best-known among the new additions is a glamorous, sexy Kate Nelligan. She turns Marylou, that avaricious arbitrageur, into a smiling shark. The Canadian actress has also nailed down the American accent, something that eluded her British predecessor Linda Bassett.
Equally convincing -and repellent- is Alec Baldwin as the corporate raider. Baldwin, looking remarkably like Michael Douglas in the film "Wall Street," oozes a brash charm. It's a nice contrast to another fine actor, John Pankow, who, as the toady banker, makes obsequiousness pay.