I so wish my friend Joanna had been with me to see Sarah Burgess’s Dry Powder, at The Public Theatre. Joanna loves the wheeling and dealing of finance and understands it, me…not so much. For anyone who knows about buying up companies to simply liquefy, out source and make the most money without caring about the collateral damage, you will love this play.
Rick (Hank Azaria) looking like Mr. Big from “Sex in The City” is ready to bite somebody’s head off. He has been fending off calls from investors all morning who have not taken too kindly to his layoffs at a supermarket chain, while he threw a lavish over the top engagement party complete with elephant. Jenny (Claire Danes, from “Homeland”) is smart and sees nothing wrong with being part of the world’s 1% or what it takes to get there. She is cold, heartless, calculating and snide. Her response is “Of course they’re protesting. That’s what unemployed people do.” Seth (John Krasinski, from “The Office”) has found a solution to the publicity nightmare. There is a luggage company in Sacramento and the price is irresistible. Too make this even more perfect it is an American family business, with American designers and American made. Seth and the C.E.O., Jeff Schrader (Sanjit De Silva), have become good friends in making this deal. Jenny however wants to strip the company’s assets, ending production in America and outsource to Bangladesh cutting over 6,000 jobs and destroying the lives for a very small profit. Seth is direly opposed, for Seth has a heart. In the end the money wins out for all involved.
As Jenny, Ms Danes has razor sharp hair and suits that accent her pert rear in a way most women will be envious. She is funny and has good comic timing, but her voice is high pitched making her whiney and her movements, stiff though her performance does grow on you. Mr. Krasinski is a breath of fresh air. He portrays Seth’s anxiety over being the one to screw the client, anguish at doing the right thing and spunk when confronting the coldness of Jenny. Mr. De Silva has a nice moment but it is Mr. Azaria’s as Rick who walks away with this play. He is the boss you love to hate and feel sorry for, all in the same breath. He is the perfect package that truly is a snake in the grass.
Ms. Burgess’s play in a lot of ways went over my head. At times it was so full of Wall Street jargon, that it seemed like a textbook of finance for Dummies and yes I needed a dictionary for some of the terms. Hamilton’s Thomas Kail, does a superb job directing. The set by Rachel Hauck, is chic, sparse and very blue.
Dry Powder hits its mark just like most of the men on Wall Street with a slick, one two punch.
Dry Powder: Public Theater, 425 Lafayette St.