The euro collapsed last night in Berlin. To be precise, it simply exploded offstage after eating too much confit de canard and snails.
So goes the finale of a fun musical fairy tale that is touring Berlin, Frankfurt and London on a shoestring. Euro boffins will enjoy some of its wackier creations, like a European currency snake whose body is completely out of kilter. She yelps as the Italian lira slips out of place in her spine during the course of the evening.
“EuroCrash! The Musical” transposes the single-currency story to a deep dark forest. Mark and Gilda can’t find their way out. They are lured into the gingerbread Euroland house, where Papa Kohl and Madame Mitterrand run a school of fiscal discipline attended by some wayward pupils -- personified nation states like Callum of Ireland and Stavros of Greece.
The show’s numbers include a chorus praising the virtues of the Bundesbank and former U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer Norman Lamont singing “Our currency’s gone down the plughole” in the shower. There are jokes about the Bundesbank’s “steady hand” policy and allusions to Jean-Claude Trichet’s “vigilance” at the European Central Bank, as well as throwaway references to former central bankers like Karl Otto Poehl.
The bad guys in the black cowboy hats are the credit-rating companies. (“I’m Standard, he’s Poor’s/ For a dollar we’re yours” and “I’m Moody’s, he’s Fitch, It don’t matter which.”)
‘Told You So’
A British Eurosceptic opens and closes the musical with commentary. (“I don’t like to crow/ say ‘I told you so’” and “It was a worthy cause/ With fundamental flaws.”)
The musical’s writer, David Shirreff, is a former Frankfurt correspondent for The Economist with a taste for Gilbert & Sullivan. He teamed up with Russell Sarre, an Australian composer. While the tunes are simple, the lyrics contain some complex concepts, which may make it hard for non native-speakers of English to follow.
Shirreff, who says he’s “emotionally a Europhile but intellectually a Eurosceptic,” wrote the musical at the end of 2010. He hasn’t had to change it much since, apart from adding a European Union summit scene with the leaders of U.K., Germany and France -- and downgrading the ratings for some of the countries involved.
“I haven’t given up the day job,” Shirreff said on the phone from Berlin, where he’s now based for the Economist. The magazine paid for some of his team’s flights, he said.
The six young British actors manage several parts each, donning new accents as effortlessly as they put on hats. The set is virtually non-existent -- a projection of a 1-euro coin onto a screen at the back of the stage and four chairs. The only musical accompaniment for the singers is a pianist on an upright in the corner of the stage.
This pantomime-style musical is definitely for euro geeks and has the feel of a university show because of the clever in-jokes, sometimes obscure references and no-frills production values. At a little over an hour long, it whizzes by very entertainingly for anyone familiar with the politics of currencies.
“EuroCrash!” is showing at Berlin’s Prime Time Theater on Jan. 26, at Frankfurt’s House of Finance from Jan. 27 to Jan. 29, and at the Cockpit Theatre in London from Feb. 8 to Feb. 11.
For tickets and information, go to: http://www.primetimetheater.de/spielplan.html http://www.frankfurtticket.de/ http://www.thecockpit.org.uk/show/eurocrash_the_musical
(Catherine Hickley writes for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are her own.)