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“Serious Money”: a play about finance

It is not that often that I read plays. Sometimes they work well as literary texts and other times, it is just better to see them live. Serious Money, by Caryl Churchill, is for me, a play that falls into the latter category. Mainly because of jumps in speech, the singing, and the fast pace and often doubled scenes. That isn’t to say that the play is not fun to read, just that it would be better live. I must admit that when a play is described as rhyming couplets about the stock exchange in London, my interests are piqued.

I have a love/hate relationship with the rhyming in Churchill’s play. Sometimes it made me laugh and other times it made me cringe. Although, upon reflection, I wonder if that is half the point? The play is extremely fast-paced and I loved that the characters are unapologetic about their greed and love of money. Scilla, was by far my favourite character. Despite the fact that she is more interested in her brother Jake’s investments than she is about his death, Scilla is extremely ballsy. And I think for the time that it was written (the late 80s), Scilla is the beautiful imperfect anti-woman. She is hard, unforgiving, driven, potty-mouthed, and everything that is not demure.

Churchill’s play was received with mixed reviews when it premiered. Some said the play was amazing and others were annoyed by the rhyming and the technical banker/stock exchange jargon. For a person who grew up after the stock exchange Big Bang, countless law suits involving Swiss banks and dirty money, and corruption and consumerism on speed, I was less than shocked by the play’s content. In fact, my lack of shock only reminded me of how cynical I’ve become, or been made.

This play is complicated and despite its short length, you should be warned that it will take you a while to pick up the pace and rhythm of it. It will also introduce you, if you don’t already know, to a game called “Pass the Pigs”. I highly suggest, that if you aren’t interested in the play, at least try the game! It’s a favourite of mine.

Book cover of Serious Money.

Do you usually read plays? Have you read Serious Money? I would love to hear what you think. As always, remember to share the reading love.