MONEY makes the world go round, but then one day the world comes crashing down… again.

Not by coincidence, surely, did the Playhouse open two money-fixated plays in the same week: the Spend Spend Spend! musical tale of Castleford housewife Viv Nicholson, followed by Crash, William Nicholson’s first stage play for ten years.

From the itchy pen of the screenwriter of Shadowlands and Gladiator comes a zeitgeist comedy-drama about public enemy number one: City of London bankers.

Nicholson started from the premise of wanting to let rip at the smug, conceited, richer-than-Rooney lot of them, before condensing his anger into a lively, loud debate between two old school friends wrapped inside a sharp if brash four-hander where all four have their differing troubles.

Nick (Colin Mace) is a Goldman Sachs securities trader with an Elizabethan house turned over to flashy vanity acquisitions, most notably a Damien Hirst painting and a statuesque, outwardly gold-digging Croatian ‘girlfriend’, Eva (Helen Bradbury).

Behind a panoramic wall of glass – he beat planning regulations with a £30,000 bung – Nick stands twitchily looking through binoculars for signs of anti-banker protestors.

He’s also expecting his faded school best buddy, floundering sculptor Humphrey (Steven Pacey), bearing a £100,000 cheque for his latest work, made from old bike parts with mutual history.

Invited too is school teacher Christine (Carolyn Backhouse), Humph’s leftie wife and the one true love of Nick’s past life.

The prick of Humph’s conscience at taking ill-gotten money bursts the bubble of bonhomie as a game of table football turns into a war of words, or more specifically the first half ends with Humph’s unbroken, unanswered rant, the one we have all articulated. Why are bankers deserving of such fat bonuses?

By now Nick has waltzed off. Hey, a banker with feelings after all. It is not that Nicholson has sympathy for the devil, more that he wants to broaden the question to challenging us all on our (comparative) worth and our principles, which is more uncomfortable.

Surprise, surprise, money can’t buy Nick love, as the young Beatles once observed, but we are exposed to the gaping holes in Humph and Christine’s lives too, while Eva’s burgeoning back story affirms once more that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.

A shattering climax leaves Nick to have his final say: an accusation that we willed the Crash upon ourselves to redress the balance of an acquisitive society that lost its sense of proper values, so we are all at fault. A lecture from a banker? Now that’s rich, just like the Osborne-Cameron axis telling us we’re all in this together, but he surely has a point on values?

Crash is somewhat glib and grandstanding, not least in Nicholson’s hectoring of the modern art marker, our obsession with shopping and our wet liberalism. Nevertheless this political drama is directed tartly by Sarah Esdaile, engagingly performed and more humorous than a Harriet Harman putdown.

Crash, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds, until November 13. Box office: 0113 213 7700