Theatre Delicatessen and The Lab Collective have teamed up to create the Pinstripe Trilogy in the abandoned BBC building in Marylebone.
The three short plays, themed around the economic crisis, manage to capture the sign of the times whilst deftly avoiding clichés. The three individual pieces (directed by Joseph Thorpe and Natalie Scott) make perfect use of the unusual space from the moment the audience is welcomed by energetic networking executives.
An office stripped to concrete is the perfect set for the lone trader addressing his audience in the first play Matador. Charming, slick and silver-tongued Neil Connolly pleads his case. He knows how he is viewed, yet he revels in his position; the games he has played and just how this economic mess was all made possible is explained. He was part of it, but who is to blame: those who sell or those who buy into it?
The transition from first piece to second is smooth and natural; the audience is led to the next room where Mark Fairclough holds his council in The Bean Counter. The accountant helps people to get their taxes right. He believes in the system, loves the system. The audience knows what their taxes pay for, so why do we still dislike paying taxes? Simple distrust? The media stories surrounding celebrities and tax dodging coffee chains leave us reeling. It’s not fair! So should we too resort to loopholes and clever tricks? The modern tax system was created for a better society. A caring society. The accountant dreams of a utopia with simple taxes, closed loopholes and a subsequently fairer system. This is only possible if the government actively pursued a fairer society, but who chooses the government?
Time and time again, The Pinstripe Trilogy holds a mirror before the audience. It is easy to shift the blame for the recession to those deemed directly involved. But to what extend were we, or are we a contributing factor?
It is a question of the surreal Trust Fund. The organisation’s CEO, Emma Briton chirpily presents us the opportunity to invest in underprivileged children: to the extreme, privatising of childhood. Videos of the potential are shown, including the expected monetary value of each child. As investors, we reap a percentage when the product starts bringing in money. A laughable spoof, or is it?
An audience member does admit to sending his children to private school to give them the better chances for a successful life. To be part of the 0.01% that leads the country. How do we define success? What are the consequences of this definition? A desperate father, a passionate Matthew Haigh, personifies the outcome of disaster. If our eyes are on the money, do we not miss out on seeing other things?
The Pinstrip Trilogy is an intelligent piece of theatre that deals with issues without lecturing its audience. Carefully balancing interaction and entertainment, The Lab Collective and Theatre Delicatessen have created socio-political theatre at its best.