The Credit Crunch. An economic crisis which hit the tabloid headlines of 2007 to 2009, affecting the financial status of Britain and other countries around the world. A topic not to be discussed at the dinner table, David Shirreff has instead decided to turn it into a musical.
Script and lyrics tell the tale of the financial crisis through the eyes of, well of course, Little Red Riding Hood. With Mr Wolf guiding her along the way… to the right investments, that is. And of course the background is filled with a chorus of the ‘Masters of Finance’.
Emily Bestow’s design was a simple use of wooden frames, cleverly constructed, tipped, pulled and upturned to create the settings. With a selection of plant pots, creating the woods of the world. Alice Kornitzer’s direction produced some effective tableaux, with characters approaching from front, side and behind, working intimately in the intimate space within Battersea’s Devas Club. This was accompanied by Rachael Owen’s choreography, which was just and jolly as the music it provided movement for, composed by Russell Sarre.
The company of six worked closely to display this financial fairy tale. Christian Lunn gave a boyish charm to his character, making him likeable and inviting. An expression of uncertainty was well-suited to the knowledge, or lack of, for the future conditions of the financial state of the country. Together with Danni Payne’s Divina, a 21st century Little Red Riding Hood, the two formed a fond friendship, broken as Divina is exposed to the world of corrupt bankers and investments. Payne captured the seductive nature of Little Red, as she grew through exposure to the real world.
Chris Runciman’s Mr Wolf, is a character who, it could be argued, should remain within the realm of the fairytale land. It was certainly unsettling to see that sort of lascivious behaviour in the financial environment. Although as an outsider of this cut-throat world, who am I to judge?
Rachael Owens, Edward Baxter and Michaela Stern sang near-to-perfect harmonies, with comical multi-roling, convincing with the stereotypes that suited the genre. Owens and Stern certainly had impressive vocal abilities, as did Payne. Moments of unison singing beamed to the ceiling of the Devas Club.
All in all, a colourful-characters production; a juxtaposing tale of children’s fantasy with a working man’s nightmare. A patch of Britain’s early 21st century, told through the eyes of a little girl with a red hat.
Review by Joseph Winer
Broke Britannia! The Musical
Finance and musical – not two words you often hear together. Broke Britannia! replays the CREDIT CRUNCH as fairy-tale – with vicious lyrics and great tunes. No character is spared, from doomed bankers such as Fred the Shred and Andy Applegarth, to the jokers who were meant to control them – Alistair Darling, Mervyn King & Co. All set against the easily digested backdrop of Little Red Riding Hood, Mr Wolf leads us through a financial zoo of heroes and villains, taking in Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother on the way.
Think Bertholt Brecht meets Gilbert & Sullivan: lyricist David Shirreff, who reported on the crisis for The Economist, believes only satire does justice to the fiasco and throws down the challenge that today’s cast of characters could easily do it all over again.
Broke Britannia! is the first in a series of three new musicals which each follow a different financial crisis, the first taking place at home in the UK 2007-2009, the second, Eurocrash!, in Europe, and the third, Barack and the Beanstalk, tackles the USA. With a West End studded cast and brand new design, Crunch Productions looks forward to taking the Square Mile by storm.
Music by Russell Sarre, Words by David Shirreff, Directed by Alice Kornitzer, Musical director Chris Huntley and Produced by Noor Lawson
Broke Britannia! The Musical
Words by David Shirreff
Music by Russell Sarre
Directed by Alice Kornitzer
Produced by Noor Lawson
Musical director Chris Huntley
Britain’s credit crunch as musical. Mr Wolf leads us through a financial zoo of heroes and villains, taking in Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother on the way.
Bridewell Lunchbox Theatre, 14 Bride Lane, London EC4Y 8EQ
Tuesday to Friday 13th October to 23rd October, 2015 1pm (extra show on Thursday and Friday at 12pm)
Running time: 45 minutes
More information at www.crunchproductions.co.uk