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Plays About Money, Materialism or Greed

These plays have characters focused on acquiring money or material possessions, or otherwise demonstrating greed.

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Golden Boy by Clifford Odets (3 Acts)

When a fighter pulls out of a bout with an injury, Joe Bonaparte offers to fight in his place. Joe is a violinist but is thinking of boxing instead to make more money. He is uncertain which one to pursue. The fight promoter’s girlfriend, Lorna, tries to move Joe toward boxing.

The Madwoman of Chaillot by Jean Giraudoux

Shortly after WWII, the President and the Baron meet in a Paris café. The President grew up in poverty, but worked his way up through counterfeiting and drugs, and now runs many businesses. The Baron is on the board of directors of one of these companies, although no one knows what the company does. They’re soon joined by the Prospector, who has a plan to drill for oil under Chaillot, even if that mean destroying the area.

School for Scandal by Richard Sheridan (5 Acts)

Lady Sneerwell is plotting to destroy the romance of Charles because she wants him. There is much gossip and slander. Sir Peter and his wife argue about her spending habits. Sir Oliver returns to test his nephews – he has money to leave and wants the recipient to be worthy.

The Trials of Brother Jero by Wole Soyinka (3 Acts)

Brother Jeroboam, a “beach preacher”– a preacher who doesn’t have a church – relates the events of a memorable day. He manipulates and maintains control over his assistant, Chume, and things come to a head.

The Good Person of Szechwan by Bertolt Brecht

Shen Teh, a prostitute, agrees to provide lodging for three gods. Before they leave, they pay her a generous sum, which she uses to buy a tobacconist shop. Due to her newfound success, she is soon beset with requests for help and various payments. Her cousin, Shui Ta, arrives and helps with the business. He cuts off the handouts. Shen Teh continues to be imposed upon.

Volpone by Ben Jonson (5 Acts)

Volpone is a very rich man who takes much pleasure in his wealth. He’s visited by some acquaintances who bring gifts in the hope of gaining his favor. Volpone pretends to be sick; Mosca tells the visitors they could get into Volpone’s will. Shortly after, Volpone sees the wife of one of his visitors and is smitten with her.

The Alchemist by Ben Jonson

The master of the house is away. The butler, Jeremy, is involved in a scheme with Subtle, a swindler. Various guests arrive at the house and they get as much money from them as possible. One of the things they propose is a counterfeiting scheme.

The Little Foxes by Lillian Hellman (3 Acts)

In a small town in the Deep South, there’s a gathering at the Giddens house. The family has just made a deal with Mr. Marshall, a Chicago businessman, to build and run a cotton mill. The arrangement will make them all wealthy. The Giddens siblings—Regina, Oscar and Ben—are present, along with other family. Regina’s husband, Horace, is in Baltimore due to a heart condition. The siblings have big plans for the money and want as large a share as possible.

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