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Analysis
The Euro plot – worthy of a joint work by William Shakespeare and Agatha Christie

The Euro plot – worthy of a joint work by William Shakespeare and Agatha Christie

by David Marsh

Wed 7 Apr 2010

Speculation that the plays of William Shakespeare could have been written by a cooperative has been doing the rounds for decades. No-one has suggested, though, that the esteemed dramatist could have teamed up with a writer of the calibre of Agatha Christie to assemble his theatrical masterpieces. Not until now, that is - not until the unfolding of the first real crisis affecting the 11-year-old single currency in Europe. The intricate melodrama of the euro is worthy of the greatest of plots that could have been dreamed up by the combined forces of the Immortal Bard and the Queen of Thriller Writers.

The chronicle of intrigue and anguish is built around the tempestuous relationship between German and Frankonia, two towering figures drawn together by mutual attraction tempered by occasional bouts of visceral loathing. Early on in the play, much of which takes place in the hulking Euro Central castle in the middle of Frankfurt, the two principal characters elect to forge a lifelong monetary bond. The aim is to establish the long-desired Euro Kingdom that will put an end to interminable economic anarchy.

All concerned wish to bury nascent hostility between the earnest and steely German and the more spiritually-minded and somewhat temperamental Frankonia, and build a new era of comradeship and understanding. The pivotal twosome are accompanied by a host of minor currencies who – as the tale moves through a series of climaxes – play an ever more important role in the show.

The two key protagonists overcome early squalls and, after a series of pulsating skirmishes, appear to be embarked upon a voyage of world domination that will put paid to the avaricious ambitions of Americana, a long-established but down-at-heel currency from across the waters.

Then, as tension palpably rises, a new central character enters the adventure in the shape of Grecia, a shapely, well-proportioned yet distinctly skittish figure with a contorted personal history. Grecia initially brings harmony to the ensemble. However, her increasingly wayward and unbalanced behaviour, and her strong following among a motley band of kinfolk in the southernmost reaches of the Kingdom, set off disturbing perturbations.

In a series of shadowy battlements scenes, Frankonia and German joust to resolve the dilemma over Grecia’s infidelity to the crusade for stability and order. German faces antagonism from the other Castle occupants, who claim he is spending too much time on foreign conquests in far-off corners of world markets, and should divert more of the state household to upkeep of the Castle.

German bristles at the suggestion that he is a less than full-hearted supporter of the euro cause. With an air of stringency that gains tempo in later acts, German accuses Frankonia of seeking to tempt the Castle-dwellers into returning to traditional unbalanced life-styles that devalued life in the old days. If Grecia does not mend her errant ways, German warns, she will face the ultimate deterrent of expulsion from the Castle. And her head will be placed on a pike on top of a turret as a warning to other malingerers.

Frankonia has always had considerable affection for Grecia. Laying bare the fragility of their vicissitude-torn relationship, Frankonia asks German to unburden the true contents of his heart. German demurs, suggesting a compromise that pleases no-one: Grecia should come under the control of the International Monetary Knights, who have deep purses for bestowing funds on foreign lands, but with many strings attached.

Thus the plot progresses towards a denouement. The final act has not yet been written, for Shakespeare and Christie left behind only ghostwriters to continue their work. We do not know how many bodies will be left lying on the stage, and whose dagger will be protruding from their shoulder-blades. Whether obstinate German or wilful Frankonia triumphs is not in our gift to foresee. All that we can tell is that, for set-piece drama, the euro saga can hardly be bettered. You should go along and see it while you can. A performance of this intensity cannot go on for ever.

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