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Love and Money
The construction of Love and Money is almost in reverse order. It opens with an email romance between a French woman, Sandrine and London based David until she starts asking some questions about his dead wife which have uncomfortable answers. The second scene has Jess’s parents feeling angry about a grave memorial to a Greek woman which overlooks their daughter’s more modest gravestone. Scene three sees David begging his ex, Val (Claudie Blakely) for a well paid job and her humiliating him. Later scenes look at Jess’s spending, maybe she suffers from a version of the shopping disease which has helped propel David into so much debt. The final scene is one I found annoying as Jess philosophises on the meaning of life putting concepts like the big bang and relativity into Essex-speak.
In a way the first scene which is the latest chronologically is the most hopeful. David describes his life in email to the sympathetic Sandrine: "I live this life here where everything is measured in pay grades and pension schemes and sales targets and people like Liam laugh when your orders are cancelled and you are scared of losing your job." Kelly’s writing is important but difficult as he describes a "terminally cynical world". But when Jess outlines her touchy feely approach, I was repelled by her simplistic sentiment instead of warming to her.
Anna Fleischle’s set is really beautiful, pure white shiny cubes, the boxes of which slide out to change the scenery. It is all so pristine unlike the messy lives which are being described. Matthew Dunster gets convincing performances from his cast of bright young things, and Jess’s parents. In the first scene which works very well we never see or hear Sandrine except through David’s reading her emails to him, which conveys the intimacy and the imagination of e mail romance. Love and Money raises more difficult and edgy questions about the nature of modern society than there are answers.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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