Summerhall (Tech Cube 0), Edinburgh
“It’s not about money,” says Michael (Rohit Kumar), the swaggering manager of Tasty’s (Tasties? Tasteez?) fast food restaurant. “What is it about then?” asks Shaun (Michael McCardie), struggling to understand what other benefits his recent ‘promotion’ might bring.
Because, of course, it’s always about money.
Especially in Shaun’s case, because he’s got responsibilities. He’s not here for pocket money to fund a new pair of trainers and a few nights out. He needs a proper wage, enough to support him and his little sister, because she’s relying on him and there’s no one else. Well, there’s Eddie (Matthew Boyle), who’s happy enough to do a bit of babysitting in exchange for a place to stay, but Eddie can’t be counted on…
Eliza Gearty’s play is a timely one (similar in theme to Katherine Soper’s Wish List), highlighting how unfair and how unfit for purpose the gig economy really is. But, as Shaun’s co-worker Hannah (Isabele de Rosa) discovers, unionising isn’t easy.
Unusually for an adult play, About Money features a child in one of the leading roles. Nine-year-old Lois Hagerty more than holds her own, delivering an impressively nuanced performance and imbuing Sophie with an impish charm. The rest of the cast also perform very well, creating memorable and appealing characters, but it’s Sophie we’re talking about as we leave, and it’s Sophie we’ll remember. This is no accident. Gearty’s script positions her as the focus, and Alex Kampfner’s direction highlights this, literally placing her centre stage. She’s the star around which the others orbit, that makes them strive to improve their corner of the world. For her.
On the downside, I’m unsure about the date scene, when Hannah comes to spend the evening with Shaun. This seems a little contrived, and somehow unbelievable. Likewise, the late-night search for a missing person feels rushed, and is told rather than shown.
Nonetheless, About Money is an engaging and thoughtful piece of theatre.