October 22nd 2007
By City Boy
People say I'm a
terrible snob, but I'm not ... I'm really good at it. After that line in the new
play, Alex Live on Stage, based on the City character in the cartoon, my
lady-friend elbowed me and said: "It's like watching you on stage." Of course, I
took this as an enormous compliment until I realised she was actually being a
The hilarious new play is written by Alex's
creators Charles Peattie and Russell Taylor and stars Robert Bathurst (the blond
one in Cold Feet). It's about a roguish investment banker trying to scheme his
way out of a potentially disastrous corporate deal while saving his marriage.
It will, I believe, become a "City event" as brokers across the
Square Mile take their clients to see it for entertainment in the run-up to
Christmas. What will be interesting is whether this audience can "handle the
Shakespeare, who's always struck me as a reasonably smart
chap, said the point of drama was to "hold the mirror up to nature". When City
boys, their clients, and their wives, see themselves depicted on stage, are they
going to like what they see? Will the uncomfortable truths be too much for a
City-based audience, or will it be water off a duck's back such is the
"thickness" of their skin?
For example, the play seems to suggest
the City is run by lucky, thick, posh people. This goes without saying, but will
Tarquin Bennington-Smythe on a million a year for doing diddly squat fully
The play also suggests that clients are there to be
shafted by greedy investment bankers. Again, you'll hear no objections from this
corner but some bankers in post-play conversations with the clients they've
brought along may be keen to emphasise what preposterous stereotypes were being
depicted on stage.
However, it's City boys and their wives who
may have the most to talk about. Poor Penny craves "spontaneity and passion",
yet never sees her husband Alex, who works all hours God sends and goes to strip
joints. It may make uncomfortable watching for certain couples.
Alex realises he is rapidly becoming a dinosaur in a modernising City
environment populated by young, professional "rodents" who can speak five
languages, but there was some solace for me.
As Alex says:
"Until the asteroid strikes, dinosaurs can still squash prototype rodents." I
slept easy that night – and it wasn't just the two bottles of Bollinger.
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