The Internet Theater Magazine of Reviews, Features, Annotated Listings








Etcetera and
Short Term Listings


NYC Restaurants


New Jersey







Free Updates
Writing for Us
A CurtainUp London London Review
Roaring Trade

I've given up going to the theatre 'cause I don't have the attention span. I went to see Lord of the Rings. Sixty quid a seat. Five minutes in and I was staring at my shoes. You have to fight to keep my attention. — Jess
 Roaring Trade
Andrew Scott as Donny
(Photo: Simon Annand)
Following up his political comedy Whipping It Up, Steve Thomson's new play Roaring Trade couldn't be more topical as it focuses on a group of bond traders in the City of London. Now Thompson's characters are shown before the credit crunch exposes to the nation the inherent instability of trading in something which doesn't really exist. There is an excellent explanation of what it means to sell something you don't own when the price is falling made in McDonalds by Donny (Andrew Scott) to his ten year old son Sean (Jack O'Connor) using a tub of tomato ketchup as the commodity.

Although Roaring Trade is set in the marketplace, it is the story of four traders. Donny is the top dog at McSorleys, a large City investment bank, a Cockney wide boy, fast and astute. Jess (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) is the posh bird who uses her sexual attraction to lure hesitant clients into deals. P.J. (Nicolas Tennant) is the old hand at 40, with an avaricious wife (Susan Vidler) and daughters, who is paying for a large house which he never gets time to relax in. These three form the existing traders and are joined by Oxford graduate and Old Etonian, Spoon (Christian Roe), so called because Donny determines he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. The rivalry between Donny and Spoon forms the dynamic of the play. Spoon is the nicely brought up boy who plays dirty against the rules of the City brokerage business, rules adhered to by scoundrels.

The opening scene is a ghastly initiation rite for pretend new boy Donny in a mock interview with Jess, which isn't all it appears to be, but sets the tone for outrage and black comedy. It is P.J. who shows us what happens to burnt out traders at 40 as he desperately tries to maintain the high living lifestyle which his parasitic wife demands. At the other end of the age range we see Sean, Donny's son quickly catching on to the spirit of capitalism by ripping off his grandmother by selling her pictures he has supposedly painted. In this scene Thompson shows us the inevitability of people's desire to make money at the expense of even those who should be close to them.

Roxana Silbert directs for Paines Plough, a theatre company which exists to encourage emergent theatre writing. The modern office set has detailed screens showing the latest price and movements in the market and loud rock music features between scenes. The performances are excellent but it is Andrew Scott's Donny which will stay with you as he manages to combine the swagger of the successful dealer with ultimate vulnerability and sticking to the rules. Andrew Scott gives Donny a high pitched Estuary whine in this starring performance. Elegantly suited and high heeled, Phoebe Waller-Bridge as Jess looks out for herself and manages to survive. Christian Roe as Spoon displays all the arrogance of his birth right and Nicolas Tennant as P.J. becomes visibly more hunched, caught in the impossibly downward career spiral with his deeply unsympathetic wife.

Steve Thompson's latest play has great comedy underpinned with pain. Of course it was written before the real pain of the recession started to bite and trading jobs were lost in their hundreds so we may expect more plays about the crash.

Roaring Trade
Written by Steve Thompson
Directed by Roxana Silbert

Starring: Andrew Scott
With: Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Nicolas Tennant, Christian Roe, Jack O'Connor, Susdan Vidler
Design: Kandis Cook
Lighting: Wolfgang Goebbel
Sound: Matt McKenzie
IT and Media: Matt Kirby
Running time: One hour 30 minutes without an interval
Box Office: 0870 429 6883
A joint production between the Soho Theatre and Paines Plough
Booking to 7th February 2009
Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge based on 12th January 2009 performance at the Soho Theatre, Dean Street, London W1 (Tube: Tottenham Court Road)
Highlight one of the responses below and click "copy" or"CTRL+C"
  • I agree with the review of Roaring Trade
  • I disagree with the review of Roaring Trade
  • The review made me eager to see Roaring Trade
Click on the address link E-mail:
Paste the highlighted text into the subject line (CTRL+ V):

Feel free to add detailed comments in the body of the email and state if you'd like your comments published in our letters section . . . also the names and emails of any friends to whom you'd like us to forward a copy of this review.

London Theatre Tickets
Lion King Tickets
Billy Elliot Tickets
Mighty Boosh Tickets
Mamma Mia Tickets
We Will Rock You Tickets
Theatre Tickets
London Theatre Walks

Peter Ackroyd's  History of London: The Biography

London Sketchbook

tales from shakespeare
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
Click image to buy.
Our Review

©Copyright 2009, Elyse Sommer.
Information from this site may not be reproduced in print or online without specific permission from