Nicki Alchin
23rd Aug 2022

With Australia's economy currently experiencing some alarming features such as escalating interest rates to stem an inflationary spiral, and increased industrial action as a reaction to a lack of real wage increases, it would seem there is no time like the present to revisit events that created economic uncertainty and eventual crises for the United States and the rest of the world from the late 70s to the early 80s. Flightpath Theatre's latest offering from Dream Plane Productions, The Labyrinth by Beth Steel and directed by Margaret Thanos, does just this.

Audiences will be taken on a helter-skelter, manic and dramatic journey of frequent scene changes, fast talking wheeler dealer slick Wall Street characters and corrupt government officials to highlight events that lead to the global and personal scale collateral damage created by the Latin American Debt Crisis. The script also serves as a reminder that economic disaster followed by a rally is not a new phenomenon; a continually cyclical nature of the world's economies is 101 Macro Economics theory. The extent of the impact on a country's economy is down to the quantity, type and frequency of government intervention.

We are taken inside the workings of one the major players of the Latin American debt crisis, The Bank of America. On show are the reckless banking practices of its foreign loan officers as they live the high life at luxury hotels around the globe. Swanning about with finance ministers of South American governments at US Embassy parties and International Monetary Fund (IMF) events, all the while turning a blind eye to corrupt behaviour by government officials and writing bland bit favourable reports on the many merits of loaning funds to government sanctioned, but also doomed, projects.

All the banking employees, and there are a few, walk the walk, and talk the talk of corporate America confidently led by “Greed is Good" advocate Charlie (Angus Evans) except the newly promoted kid John (Matt Abitomey) who naively thinks that making astute economic decisions that are both moral and ethical regarding the loan applications he is in charge of, is what is required in his job. He soon finds out that corruption as a means of becoming wealthy is the name of the game.

Abotomey is joined on stage by Richard Cox who plays the haunting role of Frank, John’s father. Brendan Miles is John's boss Howard, who takes him under his wing and appears all fatherly in his advice on how to succeed in the loan business; Tasha O'Brien and Rachael Colquhoun-Fairweather are the comedic relief colleagues John relies on to keep him in the loop of office politics and Wall Street scandals, Rick and Phillip; Diego Retamales plays the roles of various Latin American government officials and Amitya Ponte Alvarez is Grace, the journalist who tries to inject a conscience into the banking crowd.

Go see it to gain a feel for the theory that everything old will be new again on the never-ending economic cycle. You may even walk out less pessimistic about current events knowing that at some point the economy will be on the way up again.

Now playing at Flight Path Theatre until 3 September.