The big moral question at the heart of Indecent Proposal is: what are you willing to do for $1 million?
More specifically in this story, set in Atlantic City in 1988: would you have sex with a stranger if they paid you $1 million? (That’s $1 million in 1988, by the way, which, with inflation, would be $2.3 million today, or £1.6 million – as a fiscally focused theatregoer pointed out.) And, for those in relationships, would you be tormented if your partner did?
I posed those latter two questions to the audience and the company at the post-show Q&A following last night’s performance of the new musical version of Indecent Proposal and hands shot up across the stage and around the auditorium – in many cases, the same hands answering yes to both.
No wonder, people wanted to talk and talk about this and other issues raised by the piece. We extended the Q&A past last orders, taking a break for those who needed to dash to catch trains, to accommodate more and more questions and observations.
What are you willing to do for $1 million?
It was an incredible turnout too after a two-hour-plus performance. On the panel, we heard from the writing team – composer Dylan Schlosberg, who had the original idea and secured the rights directly from novelist Jack Engelhard, and Michael Conley, who wrote the book (and lyrics) based on this 1988 novel impervious to the famous 1993 film of it (which he has still never seen!) – as well as producer Neil Marcus, who put the writers together and nurtured the project from its inception; director Charlotte Westenra, charged with considering the gender politics of the piece post-Me Too; and fellow creatives, musical supervisor and arranger John Reddel and musical director Connor Going, who also performs as a busker and keyboards for the onstage band.
We were also joined, of course, and to the delight of the audience, by the stars of the show: Norman Bowman and Lizzy Connolly, who play the initially happily married couple who make the Faustian choice; Ako Mitchell as the billionaire (with a little bit of Trump about him) who puts a price on their heads; and Jacqui Dankworth, who plays Annie, the Atlantic City lounge singer who sees, and has seen, it all.
This was only the fourth preview for the brand-new musical. One woman in the audience had booked again having first seen the show earlier this week, and many others also vowed future repeat attendances. With such interest and enthusiasm, not to mention some stunning songs and performances (we talked about those too), I’d say Indecent Proposal has the makings of a cult hit.
Indecent Proposal continues at London’s Southwark Playhouse until 27 November 2021.
On the panel, from left to right: (me) chair Terri Paddock, Dylan Schlosberg (composer), Michael Conley (book & lyrics), Neil Marcus (producer), Charlotte Westenra (director), John Reddel (musical supervisor & arranger), cast members Jacqui Dankworth, Norman Bowman, Ako Mitchell, Lizzy Connolly and Connor Going (musical director, busker & keyboards).
Event photography by Peter Jones.