Andy Duffy‘s one-man play takes two crashes – one vehicular, one financial – and draws them together in an exploration the inner life of a banker who is involved in both, played with satisfying realism by Jamie Michie. In plain business suit and sensible shoes, Michie is more nondescript, less caricatural than the bankers of typical creative imagination, a reminder that the moneymen juggling positions and balance sheets are not all sharp-talking alpha male Hollywood idols, but bloke-down-the-pub types, whose bank balance-fuelled arrogance has run away with them.
Michie delivers his words with the air of a man awaiting bad news, fear often diminishing his physical presence. A cough in his voice and a clutch of his chest are employed to heighten this sense of someone operating at the edge of his physical and psychological powers. He takes to meditation courses to relax following his car accident, but Michie’s physical unease reveals it’s not working, long before the words do. It’s an absorbing performance.
The banking crisis provides a backdrop, a bellwether to our banker’s mindset, rather than a storyline in itself. Instead, the focus is on mental strain, particularly how this manifests itself outwardly, and comes to dictate and dominate his relationships. Blame and causality are other recurring themes. The banker repeatedly struggles with the idea that anyone could be responsible for the situation they are in.
As such, the play shows the career wrecking the banker as a real, but critically distorted human, not simply as a heartless monster. Even when he seems irredeemable, the ending restores the humanity.
But this isn’t really a take-down of bankers per se, nor the banking sector. In fact, there feels like much more the play could have had to say on the matter one way or the other. It is, however, an interesting character study of this particular individual, leaving a sense, as with many men, that the words to describe his inner feelings have not been easy coming.