Pay grades, insurmountable credit card debt, recession, excessive consumerism, love. One of these things is not like the other. However, in Dennis Kelly’s efficient and horrific 90-minute play, he examines the danger of having all these themes play together, and the catastrophe that ensues.
As a shop-a-holic wife (Julia Siple) fills her emotional voids with stuff she can’t afford, we mentally “tsk.” As we watch her defeated, middle aged husband (Peter Moore) grovel for a middle-manager job from his prickly ex-girlfriend (Darci Nalepa), we wince. We recoil as a young, mousy professional reveals how horribly she’s been tormenting her coworkers at a job she detests. Everyone is drowning and we passively sit on the sidelines and observe.
This monologue driven play takes sharp turns with each new scene. In a bold move by Kelly, he gives away the emotional punch of the play in the show’s first 20 minutes during a perfectly paced monologue delivered by Moore. Other scenes grip with raw, real emotional power and deft writing. It’s a hard show to watch, and at times lacks the cohesion to make it really hit hard. Most disappointingly, the final, highly philosophical monologue, though expertly delivered by Siple, is a tad trite.
The topic is also quite timely. I’m part of a paycheck-to-paycheck generation: Get paid, pay bills, back to zero. And, as director Robin Witt explains in her director’s notes, when we do get an unexpected windfall, such as a tax reimbursement, we don’t know what to do with ourselves, so we spend it rather than invest or save. In fact, I’m typing this review on a Mac I bought with tax reimbursement dollars. The cloud of money and debt hangs over us, sobering us, haunting us.
As much as we try to pretend it doesn’t, money controls happiness. And lives.
“Love and Money” plays at Steep Theatre through February 25. More info here >