Serious Money is perhaps Caryl Churchill’s most notorious play, providing a savage breathless indictment of high finance and its greedy, cut-throat culture.
The play is a satirical study of the effects of the ‘Big Bang’ (the deregulation of the financial markets in 1986), written in high-speed, jargon-laced, profanity-scattered rhyming couplets, and interspersed with musical numbers. Churchill’s script sprints across the trading floor of the London International Financial Futures and Options Exchange, following the machinations of an attempted corporate takeover, and the aftermath of the mysterious death of an underground trader. Though written in response to specific events, Churchill opens the play with an extract from a seventeenth century comedy about stock jobbers – little has changed, she suggests, and little will. Since its premiere at the Royal Court Theatre, London, in 1987 it has prompted city financiers worldwide both to applaud and decry its presentation of their lives.