“Fuck it. I’d rather be dead than old.”
The lifestyle of the City is fast-paced and hedonistic. There is a feeling that city boys and girls are in some way different to the rest of us. Books like “Gross Misconduct: My Year Of Excess In The City’ by Venetia Thompson, and ‘City Boy: Beer and Loathing in the Square Mile” by Geraint Andersen, document this world and give a bit of an insight. Their social lifestyle is an extension of their work style: quick witted and brutal with no time for consequences, losers or failure. Moving at such a pace both requires and breeds a certain personality, a type of person that arguably sets much of the action in the play on a roll.
While this underlies the play as a whole, it is particularly apparent in the scenes at parties, nightclubs and the strip club. It’s an each for their own, you snooze you lose kind of atmosphere. As Astrid says, these guys are hard, “each arsehole going for broke in the Arsehole Olympics.” And it’s easy to be taken in by the banter and the comedy, to laugh along as an onlooker, perhaps even let our moral judgements slide. So when the traders are admiring the stripper, and she is undoubtedly gorgeous, we see through their eyes and admire her too. They call them empowered. Do we think so too?
There are a number of times when the actresses flip quickly from female to male characters, there’s no time for a costume change and Amy Hodge (director) is keen that these characters don’t become two-dimensional stereotypes. The actresses have found different ways to do this: Chipo Chung works on her voice, lowering pitch and altering her natural inflections. Helen Schlesinger explores having a lower physical base, leading from her groin. And Emily Barber has found the most effective way is to put some rolled up tissue in her knickers. Whilst most rehearsal discussions are in-depth and thoughtful, there are times when our exploration of the opposite gender gets too much. After having a meticulous debate on the pro’s and cons of teabagging (http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=teabagging), which is then followed by particularly thrusty scene, the room dissolves into giggles.
There is a question of desensitisation that trickles through the play. In the strip club with the traders, at the party with the brokers, in the day-to-day chat that makes up their conversation, there is an accepted sexism, racism and homophobia that whilst more extreme than average conversation, has links and roots in society generally. Importantly, for the production, the language and content of the dialogue is not just normal for these characters, it’s funny. And, all too easily, we laugh along with them.