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The Trap review at Omnibus, London –’uninspiring exploration of debt’

Scene from The Trap at Omnibus, London Scene from The Trap at Omnibus, London

Kieran Lynn’s The Trap, coming to London after an initial run in Texas last April, is a short play that grapples with weighty issues: a broken financial system, debt woes, and the perils of individual greed are all tackled – none in any great depth

The Trap follows four employees of fictional payday loan company Debt Duck and their attempt to steal money from an in-branch safe. While their reasons for this vary from mortgage debt to gambling addiction. The play uses a non-linear structure to shift between day and night, but much of the dialogue is heavy-handed and too preachy to be taken seriously. There are bursts of comedy, the timing of which is well-handled by the cast, but the characterisation is two-dimensional. The abrupt ending also jars, and the whole play feels oddly dated.

The play makes little reference to the people truly at the bottom of the capitalist food chain: the struggling people who come to Debt Duck for irresponsibly given loans. It discuses the debt trap but doesn’t provide answers to any of the questions it raises. We are told the system is broken, but learn little about ways in which it can be fixed.

The real star of the show is Sarah Beaton’s set. From the misery in each faded, stained square of carpet, to high-strung Meryl’s Starbucks coffee cup having every custom option ticked off apart from ‘milk’, the attention to detail is more impressive than the play.

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An often funny, if ultimately uninspiring, look at a broken financial system