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Dry Powder

Riveting world premiere drama which lays bare the financial services industry features A-list stars Hank Azaria, Claire Danes and John Krasinski.

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Hank Azaria, Claire Danes and John Krasinski in a scene from “Dry Powder” (Photo credit: Joan Marcus)

Claire Danes, John Krasinski and Hank Azaria in a scene from “Dry Powder” (Photo credit: Joan Marcus)

Victor Gluck, Editor-in-Chief

Victor Gluck, Editor-in-Chief

Rick (Hank Azaria), CEO of midtown’s KMM Capital Management, a private equity firm, has a huge public relations problem. On the same day that he had his lavish $1 million engagement party including elephants (or was it only one?), his firm announced massive layoffs at a popular national food chain. The resulting article in the New York Times has led to protests all around the world, and their limited partners are taking a close look at terminating their investments.

His junior partner Seth (John Krasinski) has a terrific solution: if KMM acquires Landmark Luggage, a Sacramento-based firm, for the amazing deal that he has worked out for a great deal less than they expected to pay and keeps the 653 workers, while growing the company with a new product, online customization, their p.r. problem will be over. While Rick leads him to believe that he is all for Seth’s plan both for the p.r. value and the future market, he asks his other junior partner, Jenny (Claire Danes), a shark in designer clothes, to crunch the numbers for eviscerating the company and moving its manufacturing to Bangladesh where profits will rise precipitously and the company can be flipped.

Claire Danes and John Krasinski in a scene from “Dry Powder” (Photo credit: Joan Marcus)

John Krasinski and Claire Danes in a scene from “Dry Powder” (Photo credit: Joan Marcus)

Thomas Kail (one of the geniuses behind Hamilton) has staged the world premiere of Sarah Burgess’ riveting Dry Powder in as cool a fashion as Rachel Hauck’s cobalt blue set with its cubes and rectangular modules that are rearranged for the various scenes by stage hands dressed as stockbrokers. This A-list cast best known for their television roles, along with talented Sanjit De Silva as Landmark’s moral CEO, gives us indelible, full-bodied performances. Making his Broadway debut after his eight seasons on The Office, Krasinski (sleekly dressed in Dior and Ermenegildo Zegna) is the idealist who wants to make the world a better place for his wife and daughter and new child on the way, although he likes his job which makes it possible for him to own a yacht. He has promised Jeff (Sanjit De Silva), the CEO for Landmark, that none of his employees will lose their jobs. All our sympathy goes to him.

Danes (on hiatus from Showtime’s Homeland), accoutered in a black-and-white Narciso Rodriguez suit worn like armor and sporting a blonde hair-do like a helmet, is the total pragmatist. The bottom line isn’t just profits, it is the only line. Having so little regard for the damage her job does, she admits that people can’t relate to her, but she has no respect for 99% of the population who don’t live as she does. She has driven her numbers analyst to a nervous breakdown but doesn’t even know his last name or his address. For her it is an “us against them” situation and she is not surprised at the protests: for her “that is what unemployed people do.” In this war of ethics between her and Seth, she has an advantage: she has none. She is also acerbic, catty and sarcastic without even realizing it, always cutting people down to the size she wants them.

Sanjit Da Silva and John Krasinski in a scene from “Dry Powder” (Photo credit: Joan Marcus)

Sanjit De Silva and John Krasinski in a scene from “Dry Powder” (Photo credit: Joan Marcus)

The versatile Azaria, the voice of five characters on The Simpsons and a Tony Award-nominee for his four roles in Spamalot, is the enigmatic CEO. Tired and weary, peremptory and short-tempered, obviously worried – and not just about the public relations fiasco – he keeps us guessing as to what he will decide playing Seth off against Jenny, slapping them both down when they get out of line. As Landmark Luggage’s CEO, De Silva is the most honest and real of the characters, and ultimately the most devious. While the ending of the play will probably come as no surprise to those who work in the industry, the twists and turns keep one on the edge of one’s chair.

All aspects of the production work to forward the tension inherent in the play. From Hauck’s all-blue set, to Clint Ramos’ grey suits for the men, almost a uniform, to Jason Lyons’ lighting design with its cool blue lights on the set and various color lightshows along the walls of the theater during the scene changes, and the original techno music by Lindsay Jones, all totally appropriate for the ultra-chic milieu. While Dry Powder does not reveal any new secrets, it demonstrates the failure of leaving capitalism and the finance sector up to people’s own ethics. The seemingly incendiary title is a term referring to liquid reserves, both cash and securities.

Dry Powder (extended through May 1, 2016)

Public Theater

Martinson Hall, 425 Lafayette Street, in Manhattan

For tickets, call 212-967-7555 or visit http://www.publictheater.org

Running time: one hour and 40 minutes without an intermission

Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Victor Gluck, Editor-in-Chief
About Victor Gluck, Editor-in-Chief (644 Articles)
Victor Gluck was a drama critic and arts journalist with Back Stage from 1980 – 2006. He started reviewing for TheaterScene.net in 2006, where he was also Associate Editor from 2011-2013, and has been Editor-in-Chief since 2014. He is a voting member of The Drama Desk, the Outer Critics Circle, the American Theatre Critics Association, and the Dramatists Guild of America. His plays have been performed at the Quaigh Theatre, Ryan Repertory Company, St. Clements Church, Nuyorican Poets Café and The Gene Frankel Playwrights/Directors Lab.

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