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The Lehman Trilogy Just Hand The Tony Award to Sam Mendes Now

The Lehman Trilogy Just Hand The Tony Award to Sam Mendes Now

119 Liberty Street was once known as the cotton exchange. For 158 years Lehman Brothers operated in the United States as a fixture in the American economy. Now they are playing on Broadway.

Stefano Massini’s The Lehman Trilogy, is the reason I love theatre. Adapted by Ben Power and exquisitely, powerfully and subtly directed by the brilliant Sam Mendes, the The Lehman Trilogy spans 124 years.

Adam Godley, Simon Russell Beale, and Adrian Lester in The Lehman Trilogy. Photo by Julieta Cervantes.

It is an immigrants story as Henry (Simon Russell Beale) Lehman arrive from Bavaria in 1884. Mayer (Adam Godley) and Emanuel (Adrian Lester) Lehman join. They are here to make their fortune in Montgomery, Alabama. Starting off with cloth and dry goods, they capitalize on cotton’s high market value. The Lehman Brothers begin to routinely accept raw cotton from customers as a form of payment. By 1858 the cotton trading industry had migrated north to New York City to supply the growing textile industries in Manhattan, thus the Lehman brothers headed north and opened their first location thanks to Emanuel.

Adrian Lester and Adam Godley Photo Credit: Julieta Cervantes

After the Civil War the Lehman Brothers helped rebuild Alabama. The firm also dealt in the emerging market for railroad bonds and entered the financial-advisory business. Lehman Brothers we learn are responsible for the Radio Corporation of America, the film “King Kong” and so much more.

Surviving The Great Depression they shift from equities into venture capitalism trying to discover the next best American business. Many great companies came into fruition because of the Lehman’s.

As the brothers die off, their children take over. Herbert H. Lehman (Lester), son of Mayor, dissociates himself away from the family business and become NYC Governor. Philip (Beale) son of Emanuel carries on the legacy and then Philip’s son Bobby (Godley) after serving 44 years leaves the company to outsiders.

Important moments were the creation of no risk mortgages like Acorn and the manipulation of the American public with getting the public to buy without need, just for the want.

The actors not only play the three brothers, but their wives, descendants and all the people with whom they come into contact with. They do it so naturally, that what could have been camp or “acting” is seamless and truly magnificent.

Adrian Lester Photo by Julieta Cervantes

It is hard to believe Adrian Lester is making his Broadway debut. He is impressive and yes it does take a minute to acclimate to his playing a Jewish man. There were criticisms of the 2019 production on how the Lehman Brothers made their first fortune due to the plantations in the South having slaves. Is this repatriation? I think not, as he is truly fabulous.

Simon Russell Beale, as always is a master of his craft.

Adam Godley Photo by Julieta Cervantes

The underrated Adam Godley for me stole the show with his dancing death.

The period costumes by Katrina Lindsay are eloquent.

Es Devlin’s futuristic scenic design, that revolves, not only shows the writing on the walls, but the disintegration of not only their worlds, but of ours. The files used as ladders, stepping stones and more always leave In our minds that the end is imminent.

The lighting by Jon Clark sets an eery tone for the fires, building collapses, clouds and numbers in reds, blacks, whites and grey’s. Video designer Luke Hall gives us a foreshadowing of what’s to come.

Sam Mendes makes us feel as if this is a living novel and brings out the best in his actors. His construction makes us want to know more, not less as 3 hours and 15 minutes goes by quickly.

Run to the theatre as this is definitely one of the best plays I have ever seen. It is a masterpiece not to be missed.

The Lehman Trilogy: Nederlander Theater, 208 West 41st Street until January 2, 2022

Broadway

Suzanna, co-owns and publishes the newspaper Times Square Chronicles or T2C. At one point a working actress, she has performed in numerous productions in film, TV, cabaret, opera and theatre. She has performed at The New Orleans Jazz festival, The United Nations and Carnegie Hall. She has a screenplay and a TV show in the works, which she developed with her mentor and friend the late Arthur Herzog. She is a proud member of the Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle and was a nominator. Email: suzanna@t2conline.com

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