Friday, 25 May 2012

Toxic Bankers, Lowry Studio 25-5-12

‘A new musical comedy exploring the sordid world of London’s financial heart’ – come on, who could resist that, especially if like me you love theatre, like to support new work, and (whispers) work in a bank!

Having said all that, I really didn’t know what I was letting myself in for with this show, but sometimes that leads to a great experience, and that proved to be the case tonight.
Set in SMS Ethical Investments, the plot centres on the sensitive and put upon analyst Fiona (Helen Gardner) who tries to do the right thing in a corrupt and complicated world. Her boss Tony (Jonathan Dryden Taylor) is your typical bullish investment banker who tells Fiona to ‘grow a backbone’. His loyal Risk Manager Helen (Donnla Hughes) who puts her work above her family and dotes on her boss, and the somewhat camp Investment Manager Joe (Stuart Saint) make up the ‘staff’. Added to the mix are the comedic concierge company Personal Liberty, who Tony employs to ensure his employees can devote maximum time and effort to swelling his bank balance, but are they all they seem?

A tight script, with extremely well observed characters that rang more than a few bells with me,  sharp comedy,  fabulous musical numbers, and a very strong cast, made for a fantastic piece of theatre. Whilst the main slant was comedy, there were some extremely touching moments, especially when centred on the fragile Fiona – with Helen Gardner giving a brilliant performance throughout. But it seems wrong to single out a particular member of the cast in this show as they were all excellent, both in terms of the wonderful singing, and the sharp performances throughout.

The disappointingly small audience at the Lowry studio were vocal in their approval and rightly so, this really was a great night out. I left the theatre with a smile on my face and would gladly see the show again. And my little party of a Risk Manager (gulp – I’m Helen!), an accountant, and a private banker all agreed it had been an absolute treat, if a little close to the bone! Thoroughly recommended

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