The play follows the fortunes of one Jim Trumpett, abandoned at birth on the doorstep of a Massachusetts whorehouse and destined to come to a sticky end.
Bill Paterson’s Adam Smith (the Scottish moral philosopher and father of modern economics who penned The Wealth of Nations) drily narrates the amoral Trumpett’s journey from cradle to early grave as he takes – and makes – every opportunity to line his pockets whilst maintaining that he’s the illegitimate son of George Washington.
With its nods to Brecht and to The Beggar’s Opera, Dominic Cooke’s efficient production of this sometimes long-winded satire on capitalism has its highpoints and boasts some fine work from the ensemble – notably Simon Paisley Day as a superior British officer and a smugly wealthy 21st century descendant, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith’s dignified slave purchased by Trumpett and then temporarily shackled to him by a highway robber, and Elizabeth Berrington’s Belinda chairing a conference that gets out of control.
And Johnny Flynn does a more than decent job as the arrogant, amoral, affronted antihero who is only interested in making money – no matter what the cost to anyone else.
Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square, SW1W 8AS
Tube | Sloane Square
Until 11 May
£10 – £28
Photo: Johan Persson