Love And Money

Published April 17, 2008

Love And Money is a modern play. It reeks of modernity. Everything about it speaks of the here and now, from Anna Fleischle's minimalist set, where everything is tucked away in hidden compartments, to the easy access to credit that brings down young wife Jess. It is fitting then that this was the play to open the Maria theatre at the newly modernised Young Vic. Matthew Amer attended the press night.

Dennis Kelly's new play tackles, as the title suggests, love and money; debt, why it accumulates and the effect it has, the power money brings, the devastation of having less than others. Its setting in today's world is firmly established in an opening scene that sees David (John Kirk) carrying out an email conversation via a hypnotically glowing I-Mac. In a clever piece of structuring, his monologue – which delivers both sides of the correspondence – serves as a prologue to the story that follows, which is told through dislocated yet connected scenes.

The leaping plot revolves around Jess, the sometimes naïve, sometimes hopeful, yet always neurotic wife of David. She has a problem with money; she spends it, running up £70,000 of debt. The play's scenes fill in parts of her story.

Paul Moriarty and Joanna Bacon play Jess's parents, whose lives and marriage have been torn apart by her plight. In a scene that makes the audience squirm in its seats, Kirk's resentful David is forced to leave teaching for a job in sales, relying on an ex-girlfriend to do him a favour. The power struggle in this renewed relationship and hidden history is teased out by a power-suited, over-bearing Claudie Blakely as former flame Val. Blakely returns later in the piece in another squirmer as the naïve Debbie, the object of Duncan's (Moriarty in a second guise) misplaced and thoroughly inappropriate affections.

As the roles overlap, so does Kelly's script. Many of the scenes are stylised by characters' speech constantly cutting across each other in a natural yet surprising fashion.

Essentially the tale is a tragic one, yet it is shot through with humour. And the final scene, which cuts straight to the heart of Jess’'s problem, manages to be both uplifting and upsetting.

Love And Money runs at the Young Vic until 16 December.

MA