Slick, polished satire

theatre review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 05 Aug 2011

If ever there were a need for confirmation of humankind's collective capacity for utter madness, Ravi Jain and Adam Paolozza's satire on the 2008 financial crash provides it amply. Spent tells the story of two men caught up in the Lehman Brothers debacle and of the modern, connected world's stunning ability to whitewash their personal tragedy. Funny, pacey and utterly mad, it shows just how well theatre can shed light on our bonkers world.

What's most obviously impressive about Spent is the virtuoso performances from Jain and Paolozza. Smashing their way through dozens of characters—from spare-a-dime jobseekers to adenoidal Eastern European sociologists—the pair show themselves off as accomplished physical performers. It's an extraordinarily well choreographed piece and entirely fitting that a strong sense of clowning pervades this send up of the ex-"masters of the universe" whose egos broke the world.

There are a couple of occasions where the pair get a little carried away, spending too long on scenes that they clearly enjoy doing, rather than driving the tale along. Those, however, are rare slips in a performance with real momentum. Special mention must go to the skewering they deliver of the tropes, personalities and idiocies of 24-hour news – as hilarious as it is frighteningly accurate.

Spent is slick, polished and fundamentally human theatre. Ostensibly, though, this isn't a play about mortgage bonds, sloppy reportage or the staggering unfairness of Dick Fuld's half billion dollar remuneration package. It's about the relationship between two people set against a collective and institutional lunacy that knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.