Edinburgh Fringe 2015
Nothing ever happened that you didn’t allow to happen.’ Confidence is everything in the world of high finance. Confidence in yourself, confidence in the market. Lose that and you lose everything. Crash is the story of a city stock trader rebuilding his life within a hinterland where material success is valued above all else.
Crash is a monologue, delivered by the incredibly understated and human Jamie Michie. He is a banker, sitting in an executive chair on the polished strip of flooring that backs him, a set that brings up images of Mastermind, which perhaps this character is (though probably not in a good way.)
The monologue is delivered in a fairly deadpan way throughout. There are few highs and lows to its tempo, all of which gives a sense of muted complexity to the character sitting in front of us. Even as he describes doing horrific things he betrays little emotion, and you begin to wonder whether we are seeing a portrait of a psychopath in front of us.
The title ‘Crash’, has a dual meaning in the context of this play. The banker’s life crashes around him when his wife dies in a car accident, at the same time that the stock market begins to plummet in the financial crash of 2008.
It is an odd play, in that there is no real hint as to how you should feel about the central character. He is not a sympathetic character, despite the traumas he endures towards the start of the play, and the looming failure of his business. Here we have a banker, who plays the stock markets and makes money out of the misfortunes of others. He is also jealous and violent, and seemingly shows no remorse for his actions, yet is attending mindfulness and meditation classes, and is falling in love with a pretty woman who he has made pregnant. In some ways you are appalled at his successes, yet at the same time don’t want to see him fail. (A conflict any watchers of House of Cards will be all too familiar with.)
This monologue is both a confessional and entirely devoid of any of the self-reflection or guilt that would make it such. The audience are kept guessing as to the true extent of the banker’s crimes, and there are potentially more lurking in the gloom. We can draw parallels between the amorality of the banker’s day job and his actions at home. His cold remorselessness as he gets away with and even profits from his crimes leaves a sour taste in the mouth, not dissimilar to that you get when reading of bankers bonuses in the city.
The strength of this play is really in the performance from Jamie Michie who is compelling and repulsive at the same time. He is uncomfortable in his skin onstage, shifting about in his smart suit, and failing to look anyone in the eye. Where the script is flawed, he redeems it with his acting, and makes this a show to catch if you can.