Pros: Mark Norfolk’s original and thought-provoking script.
Cons: A bit too long and overdramatic in some parts.
Below the fictitious bank name of Ogilvy, Johnson & Strang, a slogan hangs on the wall of the stage, like an omen: “Risks cost lives.” What the firm doesn’t say is whose lives.
Playing at The Space, Dare to Do is the story of Beresford Hurtington (Jaye Ella-Ruth), known as “The Bear,” a gifted and successful investment trader at Ogilvy, Johnson & Strang, a reputable bank in the City of London. A smart and ambitious young black man, The Bear made it to the very top from his working class upbringing in Tottenham. At some point he had everything a successful man could wish for: a salary of six figures, his colleagues’ respect, and a wife and child he loved. However, he loses everything overnight when the bank fires him. Shortly afterwards he is sent to prison, accused of abusing his wife (Rachel Summers), who abandons him. While in jail he meets Pepper (Bruce Kitchener), a gangster in his fifties who is impressed with Bear’s talent, and with whom he starts to work in some kind of shady deal.
The pretext given by Ogilvy and the bank’s Board to fire Bear is that he is “not really a team player.” This puzzles him since, after all, who would expect team work to be a desirable skill in the ruthless City? And besides, he was in the prime of his career, making millions for them; his team playing skills couldn’t have been that bad.
Then reality sinks in for Bear: “My face doesn’t fit.” He was the black guy from Tottenham who made a fortune for the firm with his skills and talents, something hard to stomach by the elite and well connected circles of the banking establishment. “The great and good of the financial sector with their fathers’ and their fathers’ fathers’ history, a lineage you could trace back to the thirteenth century… Mine? My heritage? Who cares? Not they.” As he then explains, both his and their ancestors were on different ends of the slave plantations, and Bear was implicitly reminded of that the day he was sacked.
The story is loosely inspired on the case of Kweku Adoboli, the Ghanaian investment trader who in 2011 was convicted for illegally trading away £1.3 billion as a trader for UBS, the largest Swiss banking institution. In Dare to Do, playwright Mark Norfolk presents a thought-provoking and alternative view of the ruthless finance world from the eyes of someone who very much wanted to belong there but wasn’t accepted as part of the club.
Author: Mark Norfolk
Director: Jeffery Kissoon
Producer: Ka Zimba Theatre
Box Office: 0207 515 7799
Booking Until: This production has finished its run.