About a third of the way through Other People’s Money, opening at Long Wharf Theatre tonight, I wondered to myself if this tale of greed, excess, and loyalty, written in 1986, was really still relevant today.
After all, we’ve seen Wall Street. We’ve seen it in The Big Short and The Wolf of Wall Street and Too Big To Fail and Boiler Room and Wall Street, and of course, my personal favorite, American Psycho. Just look at those business cards.
Look at that subtle colouring. The tasteful thickness. Oh God it even has a watermark.
What can Other People’s Money say about capitalism that our everyday lives cannot?
In truth, quite a bit. And it’s not pretty.
It’s the people, stupid.
The play does an excellent job presenting the plight of the people and their company, New England Wire and Cable. The first act is a bit slow, but sets the stage for the second, where things really start humming.
The comic moments are a bit underwhelming, but the drama is excellent, even if we, in the year 2016, can only shake our heads sadly on how it will all end.
What impressed me most was how the play made a defense of greed: The main villain, “Larry the Liquidator,” played by Jordan Lage (Salt, Michael Clayton), makes a surprisingly impassioned defense of capitalism and in a way, we understand it. After all, isn’t a business meant to make money? It’s not a charity, right? If you invest in it, you don’t do it out of pure kindness.
The play weighs these motives against each other. What is it all worth? People vs. greed? Shareholder expectations vs. employee pension plans. Who are the real villains? Is everyone culpable?
The answers aren’t always pretty, but they’re absolutely worth thinking about. In troubled times, it’s important to remember that history often repeats itself.
Plus, Reg E. Cathey (Freddy Hayes from House of Cards) was there and his deep laughter is awesome. (He’s in an upcoming production, Endgame, at Long Wharf.)
Tickets are available here and the play runs through December 18th.
Regional Theater at Its Best
If you haven’t been to Long Wharf Theatre, you’re missing out. The intimate, wraparound seating provides excellent seating for everybody. Admittedly, if you’re sitting on the sides, you might see a bit more backs of people’s heads than you’d like, but at other times, you will see the greatest details of all.
The theatre is absolutely beautiful and the productions are often impressive. In Steve Martin’s Meteor Shower, loud explosions and physical effects were impressive. In Other People’s Money, the set design was excellent, and harked back to the Wall Street of the 80’s.
Renovations in 2013 have made this theater even better.
While the clientele, like many theatres, tends to skew older, they also host events like the 40 Under 40 night, where you get a ticket, a drink, and some snacks, for $40! Not bad at all. And way more impressive of a date than going to see Captain America, probably.
The Immediacy of Theater
Despite the many calls for the death of theater, it appears that live theater is, in fact, going nowhere. While movie receipts were down last year, it’s much harder to replicate the live theater experience with a big screen TV and surround sound system.
There is something different about live theater. The precariousness of it all. The one-shot-only. The anything-can-happen. The way you may not make out every single word. That line of dialog probably wasn’t super important? Hey, can everybody just stop and re-do that bit?
Plus, you know, the extraordinary costs.
There is nothing quite like it, and Long Wharf delivers brilliantly. The seating provides intimacy and immediacy. The production rivals any regional theater. The actors come from all over and range from movie stars to local talents.
It is truly a treasure of New Haven to have them here, and something we should not take for granted.
A Personal Milestone
Yesterday’s performance at Long Wharf was also a personal milestone for me: It was the first event I’d been invited to as a member of The Press. That’s right. Me. This blog. THE PRESS.
Part of me finds it hilarious. But another part of me found it sort of exhilarating and awesome to be invited.
This blog has been more successful than I ever could’ve imagined. And I am very thankful for everyone who takes the time to click and read and share. Even if you’re just avoiding work for 20 minutes, I am thankful for each and every last one of you.[FBW]