Critical Context

(Survey of Dramatic Literature)

Although Serious Money is unusual among Caryl Churchill’s plays in that it is solely about the haves rather than the have-nots, like her other stage plays it addresses contemporary issues from a socialist point of view. Concerned with the uses of power, whether by police, religious leaders, owners, bosses, or husbands, Churchill in Serious Money focuses on business and government. Like most of her plays, Serious Money draws upon a historical context. The seventeenth century opening of Serious Money recalls both Light Shining in Buckinghamshire (pr. 1976, pb. 1978) and Vinegar Tom (pr. 1976, pb. 1978), which were set in the seventeenth century, although both addressed contemporary problems, particularly the role of women.

Feminist issues are a large part of Churchill’s political concern; she dealt with these issues in the two period plays as well as others with contemporary settings: Cloud Nine (pr., pb. 1979), Top Girls (pr., pb. 1982), and Fen (pr., pb. 1983). Gradually, the feminist message has become less overt. In the feminist play Top Girls, for example, among the many historical and fictitious female characters who have made their way in the world against overwhelming odds, not one is idealized. Serious Money is not a feminist play, yet a feminist subtext exists. In a world that requires ruthlessness to get ahead, women are not left out: Scilla can...

(The entire section is 430 words.)