Other People’s Money
Blue Touch Paper Productions Limited
Larry the liquidator (Rob Locke) will make you money. Of course, he will make himself a lot more money and be using other people’s money to do it. But if you follow his lead, then there is money to be made.
Jerry Sterner’s play, first performed during the brutal business ethics of the 1980s, shows us how he does this in a fluent production at the Southwark Playhouse.
Larry’s target is The Wire and Cable Company of New England that his computer tells him is undervalued and ripe for a raid that breaks it up and sells it off to another company that can use it as a tax loss.
As unions picket and politicians complain, his main obstacle to this comes from the company employer, the amiable Andrew Jorgenson (Michael Brandon), who wants his family firm to remain an important part of the local community. Representing Jorgenson’s corner is the young lawyer Kate Sullivan (Amy Burke), who suggests such defences as white knight, shark repellent, poison pill and greenmail.
None of which worries Larry Garfinkle, who, in discussion with Kate, tells her he is more interested in talking about “your legs, your arse, your tits” which reminds us of a certain predatory businessman who learnt his trade during the 1980s before becoming President.
All this could be very gloomy stuff but it is lightened by a good deal of witty dialogue and confident performances on a minimal set with very effective lighting to switch scenes between Larry’s plush office at one end of the traverse performance space and Jorgenson’s tattered office at the other end.
It is difficult not to regard Larry as a villain even as he justifies his case at a stockholders' meeting by claiming he is just following free market economics for, as Jorgenson points out, his approach “causes mass murder and calls it restructuring.”
But being a predatory villain doesn’t mean you lose the fight, does it Mr President?
Reviewer: Keith Mckenna