Actors alternating between roles within the same production often causes critical frisson, indeed the rotating of parts has a long and distinguished history.
In the new production of Old Times at the Harold Pinter Theatre, Kristin Scott Thomas and Lia Williams rotate night to night between the two female roles. Similarly, Jonny Lee Miller and Benedict Cumberbatch switched roles nightly to great acclaim in the 2011 production of Frankenstein at the National.
In the landmark 1935 production of Romeo and Juliet, John Gielgud swapped his part of Mercutio with Laurence Olivier’s Romeo six weeks into the run. Olivier and Gielgud were long standing rivals; the struggle to be the best Romeo was generally agreed to have been won by Gielgud who received the better reviews. Olivier famously later claimed that this had made him a better actor.
In our current production, Clare Duffy's MONEY the game show, competition between the actors is perhaps even more rife, if only onstage, as Lucy Ellinson playing Queenie, and Brian Ferguson playing Casino, compete nightly to win the largest share of the ten thousand pound coins onstage. Whoever loses faces the worst of outcomes.
The play bucks the alternating roles tradition in that our actors' fate is actually decided during each show and largely rests on the talents of the audience members in their respective teams. Until the final game neither Lucy nor Brian has any idea whether they'll be playing the winner or the loser for the final third of the play.
Bearing in mind that Casino and Queenie are ex-hedge fund managers in a show that takes a playful yet politically sharp look at the 2008 financial crisis; this is a truly unique opportunity for the 99% to affect the fate of the 1%!
So come occupy your seats at the Bush Theatre, and discover the outcome of the night’s games at exactly the same time the actors do!