Love and Money

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.

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Reviews by Amy Betteridge

Laughing Horse @ Caroline of Brunswick / Laughing Horse @ The Walrus (Raised Room)


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Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
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The Blurb

Dennis Kelly’s 'Love and Money' “I’ll get a job and a house and the right shoes”. David conducts an office romance by email. He has love at his fingertips but a shocking admission unravels his relationship. Jess loves David and she believes that if she has a job and a house and the right shoes then happiness can be bought – but at what price? A heart-wrenching black comedy that is set in a fractured and dysfunctional world of easy credit, bad debts and dark desires. An examination of how love is destroyed by materialism... told backwards. Dennis Kelly is an internationally acclaimed writer with his plays performed in over 30 countries. Plays include: 'Taking Care of Baby' (Hampstead Theatre 2006), 'DNA' (National Theatre 2008), 'The Gods Weep' (Royal Shakespeare Co. 2010) and the book for 'Matilda the Musical'. His recent 2021 British comedy-drama 'Together' for BBC starred James McAvoy and Sharon Horgan. Featuring Paul Moriarty from the original London cast! Warning: Contains explicit language and scenes of a shocking nature!

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