The term ‘trickle down economics’ came to define the short-lived and hugely damaging premiership of Liz Truss. It’s a similar debate that rages in Amalia Kontesi’s Someone of Significance now playing at VAULT Festival, directed by Sam Tannenbaum.
Here though, the story is set in the US, beginning in the weeks and months leading up to the financial crash, when sub-prime mortgages plunged millions into negative equity, through the subsequent Trump years, and concluding with the selection of Joe Biden as the Democratic nominee.
Someone of Significance isn’t all politics and finance though, it’s just as much a love story. Rosie and Brad’s encounter at an office Christmas party sparks a years long affair which will eventually have consequences for them both.
The pair are investment bankers, making a fortune at the Capitalist trough. Brad has the seniority and brings Rosie on to his team, but despite her “being the smartest in the room”, it always seems to be Brad who gets the promotion.
Rosie presents herself as a banker with morals; the building of a mall the catalyst for her wanting to see change, perhaps the result of having a very different upbring to Brad. Chasing that next promotion is what drives Brad, and any pretence of doing the right things appears as a way to placate Rosie.
The power dynamic shifts though, like a high stakes game of Chess, when Rosie leaves the banking world to become a politician. Suddenly it is she who holds all cards casting Brad and the banks aside to pursue a different agenda, even if it does mean becoming a bit of a champagne socialist.
It’s an interesting story, with quite a clever dynamic in places, but the characters aren’t quite developed enough to make Someone of Significance as compelling as it could be.
What really takes the audience out of the story is the number of costume changes; an unnecessary amount for a sixty-minute show. These happen on stage and are accompanied by recorded news reports, while these do help place us in the right time, the frequency and duration of them also takes us too far out of the fictional story, and too deep into what happened in real life.
Simon Bass as Brad and Funlola Olufunwa as Rosie are convincing enough in their respective roles, and with Olufunwa in particular you can buy into the narrative of the character. Someone of Significance has plenty of potential, and with some tightening of the script and the staging could be a compelling piece of drama.
VAULT Festival 2023 runs Tuesday 24th January to Sunday 19th March, full listings and ticket information can be found here.