In our world of fast fashion, the buy-now-pay-later mentality fed to us by banks like Klarna and the rising cost of living, Dennis Kelly’s Love and Money will truly resonate with audiences through exploring our desire to temporarily fill a void with materialism. Love and money are interchangeable in the phrase ‘____ makes you do crazy things’.
our attention was concentrated on the actors rightfully demanding it
Told backwards, we learn how Jess and David’s relationship is crushed under the weight of Jess’s materialism whilst David miserably attempts to pick up the pieces. Jack Kristiansen commanded the stage with David’s opening narration: the silences were purposefully loud and uncomfortable, and he had me gripped. Although Jess had less stage time than others, Amy Kidd’s performance was captivating, and I couldn’t take my eyes off her.
Woven in between the main narrative we are introduced to Mother and Father who are driven by parental love and an inferiority complex based in low financial status, boss lady Val who dreams of ‘photosynthesising cash’ and her yes-man colleague Paul, chorus 1-5 commenting on the state of the nation, Debbie who gives the middle finger to capitalism in a way that surely would have made Karl Marx laugh and slimy Duncan who is desperate to exploit others to make money.
Peta Taylor and Paul Moriarty shone in their parts as Mother and Father. Their scene came as welcome comic relief to David’s dark opening narration. It was easy to forget their performance as a married couple was scripted, especially their squabble about whether it is tasteful to divulge burial costs to the audience, as it was so believable! Moriarty has such gravitas whilst storytelling that I found myself siding with him even when he recounted his immoral behaviour.
Val and Debbie were played excellently by Sarah Mann. She expertly captured the terrifying essence of condescending boss Val, delivering cutting remarks to David in a way that made me squirm with discomfort. When acting as Debbie, her blank facial expressions and great comedic timing shocked the audience and simultaneously had us in stitches. Mann’s counterpart Nathan Ariss, who played Paul and Duncan delivered his lines with conviction and truly embodied sleazeball Duncan: his body language and tone of voice oozing with corruption.
The choice to use a simple set and only props that lent to the plot allowed the play’s text to be the audience’s central focus. The plain staging meant that our attention was concentrated on the actors rightfully demanding it; allowing Dennis Kelly’s commentary on the destruction that materialism causes to hit home. Similarly, the lighting was mostly minimal yet effective colour washes reflective of the scene’s mood except for the final scene. I loved the star projections that created a cosy atmosphere to compliment Jess’ powerful ending monologue, it was a great way to wrap the audience in her words about outer space. The depressing contrast between Jess’ hopeful words and her prior scenes left a bittersweet taste as the lights faded to black.
This was an excellent production by the Sarah Mann company, confronting dark secrets and exposing the unhinged lengths we go to for money, love and the lack thereof of both.