Do you remember Serious Money? If so, you're
showing your age. For the benefit of younger folk Serious Money was a stage play
first produced in 1987 (the same year that the Alex cartoon made its newspaper
debut). The play's writer Caryl Churchill was, like us, interested in
documenting the Thatcherite phenomenon that had recently emerged - the Yuppie.
However, unlike us, she had something of a political agenda and wrote a
blistering satire attacking the greed, egotism and callousness of this arrogant
new breed. However within a couple of weeks the boxes and stalls of the Royal
Court were crammed with bankers, brokers and traders, accompanied by their
clients, laughing delightedly at this marvellously accurate portrayal of their
lifestyles and values.
Then a few years back we were having a
drink with a fund manager who privately informed us how totally bored he was of
attending the Men's Final at Wimbledon. He had been to the event for the last
sixteen years on the trot and every spring invitations from four or five
different brokers for him to choose from would land on his desk. Putting aside
the sheer ingratitude of the man (Russell's mum would kill for one of those
tickets) we realised that the City is in need of a constant stream of fresh ways
to entertain jaded clients. The we remembered Serious Money and thought: why not
ALEX has been written by Alex's creators Charles Peattie
and Russell Taylor and brings the country's favourite obnoxious (not to mention
devious and manipulative) cartoon investment banker to three-dimensional life.
It's a fast-moving, seventy-minute show, in which the magic of modern
computerized technology, animation and digital projection, allows Alex, on
stage, to interact with the cartoon world of the strip; the offices, pubs,
clubs, first class travel and corporate entertainment venues, as well as those
grimy, industrialized, nether regions of the country where money theoretically
comes from or trickles down to.
The story is about Alex's
increasingly desperate attempts to juggle his job, his marriage and his social
life as crisis hits all three and threatens to ruin him. He's in trouble with
his long-suffering wife Penny, who has finally turned the tables on him. At the
same time, the business fortunes of his client, Mr Hardcastle, drastically
unravel and Alex is to blame. Meanwhile there is nowhere to hide because the
scams and skivings which Alex has made a way of life of over the years, are
about to be revealed by a mole in his department. Alex faces abject humiliation
unless he can stitch up his rivals first.
It features the
familiar characters from Alex's world; his sidekick Clive, his boss Rupert, as
well as graduate trainees, bibulous journalists, shady financial PR men,
freeloading industrialists and the other fringe characters of City life.
We began workshops with Robert Bathurst and director Phelim McDermott in
September 2006. It was quickly realised that we would need to employ quite
sophisticated computer and projection technology to render all the animation
that Charles was producing so we enlisted the expertise of Leo and Mark from
production company 59.
We conducted another workshop in December
2006 and continued to refine the piece through the spring of 2007, culminating
in two open rehearsals in June for our investors and a few of our diehard fans.
These were generally reckoned to be a success (even though the sheer weight of
the animation managed to overload the computer software).
refined the show over the summer of 2007 and it opened at the Arts Theatre in
London's West End on October 18th.