The Speculator is an intelligent, passionate costume drama with anachronisms about the illusionary quality of wealth, set in Paris in 1720.
Europe is in chaos. The French playwright Pierre Marivaux is playing games with love and chance, having an affair with his leading lady. And John Law, a Scot from Edinburgh, is the richest and most powerful man in the world: he’s persuaded everyone that pieces of paper are worth more than gold. France has given up on petty metal currency, its wealth based on shares of the new lands in America. As only Law understands the abstractions of his financial system, how long can the dream last?
Greig toys with history and questions whether imagination can, or should, triumph over truth. Some events in the play are true. The rest is speculation.
The Speculator was first performed in Catalan in 1999 at the Mercat de les Flors, Barcelona; it was first performed in English at the Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh in the same year.