Review: Roaring Trade (Park Theatre) JohnnyFox October 1, 2015 Reviews, Theatre It would be easy to dismiss Roaring Trade as ‘Boring Trade’, a 2009 quadrille for four unpleasant people in a dealing room which was stale long before the recession cut the rug from under bond trading. Analysis of its theatrical failures is more complex: the set has the feel of ‘Enron’ but random scrolling data on a projected Bloomberg screen is neither realistic nor kinetic – post-Curious Incident we expect far more from back projection. It’s acceptable for Steve Thompson to make his characters one-dimensional: most city traders present a single facet of their personalities to the world at work, but they should also be credible – apart from the introductory banter between soon-to-be-deposed top salesman Nick Moran and newbie Timothy George, the situations and dialogue simply aren’t vile, vulgar or vicious enough for a bank where blame culture is endemic and reprisals for any assumed failure both swift and deadly. They wouldn’t have lasted a morning at Barclays Capital, let alone survived a ‘Black Thursday’ when bin-liners were distributed to the desks of those for the imminent chop. Slipping in a bit of topical reference to Volkswagen’s share slide or the war in Syria is no subsitute for contemporary plotting – why doesn’t the crafty dealer ‘short’ VW itself, and predicate his profit on a false rumour about diesel emissions? That would be at least sharp. Not for nothing is a category of trading called ‘Derivatives’: the sub-plot of a team moving en masse to another bank is borrowed from the 80s Canary Wharf-set soapy ITV drama Capital City, starring Douglas Hodge – whom Nick Moran even resembles – but this piece tells us nothing new, and shows nothing we haven’t seen better done in the Gordon Gekko franchise, American Psycho, or The Wolf of Wall Street. Characters are badly drawn and even these usually-excellent actors can’t do much with the material. Lesley Harcourt does hers no favours with a gratingly arch faux sexuality that would convince no client to give her one. An order, I mean. Actors rarely pull off ‘rich’ or ‘posh’ and while Timothy George tries hard, his effete Cambridge graduate isn’t what banks recruit nowadays, preferring bonus-crazed Essex chavs who won’t question, er, ethics. Michael McKell’s staggering drunk is well-observed but no longer plausible when HR routinely spring blood and urine tests, and his friable relationship with ex-banking wife Melanie Gutteridge is inexplicable. The last thing I saw Alan Cohen direct was a dismal juggling act at the Vaudeville and this is scarcely better: pacing is slow and blocking poor – sit upstairs and you feel disengaged, sit downstairs and the sight-lines are so terrible you miss half the exchanges. Oh, and FYI set designer Grant Hicks – in 30 years of furnishing trading floors for investment banks, I never saw one with separated desks. Everyone works on a bench.