Writer: Stewart McDonald
Director: Stewart McDonald
Reviewer: Donna Kelly
It is often said that money doesn’t buy you happiness and if Stewart McDonald’s new comedy play is anything to go by, the proverb certainly appears to be true.
Millionaires Anonymous tells the story of six lottery winners who have lost their money to drink, drugs, sex and booze. Desperate to reclaim their lives, the group meet at a weekly therapy session in an attempt to learn that money doesn’t buy happiness. But unknown to their therapist, they’ve formed a syndicate and desperate to hit the jackpot again.
Dark, edgy and surprisingly funny, Millionaires Anonymous takes a hilarious look at our never-ending lust for the green stuff. McDonald’s wonderfully witty play mixes comedy and humour with tragedy and despair to deliver a dark, raw and painfully honest account of humanity’s quest for happiness in all the wrong places.
Act one takes place in a community room as the Lottery addicts announcing themselves to the audience and each other during one of their weekly sessions. The character driven plot is pushed forward by the small but talented cast who deliver some well-judged performances.
Geraldine Moloney Judge and Neil MacDonald shine as bickering middle-aged couple Julie and Mark, delivering some great comic moments, as does David Clayton as the chavy down-and-out Chris, whose facial expressions say more than athousand words.
Lee Burnitt also puts in a strong performance as the cynical and sarcastic Neil, even if some of his lines are a little cheesy and cliché, and Caitlin Mary Carley Clough brings some much needed sensitivity to the group as the shy and naive newbie Caroline.
Yet for all its comedy, Millionaires Anonymous isn’t without its flaws. A couple of scenes run on for longer than is necessary, the opening scene of act two where the group meet in Peter’s living room is one example of this. The simplistic sets also serve their purpose but give production an overall amateur feel.
That said, the strong cast performances pull the story through and there is a nice twist at the end which reinforces the message that there is more to life than money. A thought-provoking piece that is well worthy of its slot in the Greater Manchester Fringe Festival.
Runs until 3 July 2016