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"Almost numbingly safe...'Junk' follows a labyrinthine, economically dense plot with remarkable briskness, efficiency and accessibility. Still, these assets never quite erase the feeling that what we’re watching is a tale we’ve frequently been entertained and alarmed by during the past three decades...The script is refreshingly nonjudgmental...Every major character is allowed to present the viability of his or her viewpoint…Unfortunately, none of them are entirely convincing either." Full Review
"Directed at the dizzying pace of traders racking up dollars at full froth, and acted by an excellent cast, the play is supremely well-researched, insightful and smart. It is also so conscientiously thorough in its analysis of its subject that it often feels dense to the point of stultifying...The emphasis on the mechanics of deal-making, at the expense of establishing characters we can care much about, leaves 'Junk' with a dramatic balance sheet that’s seriously skewed." Full Review
"Not only the most important play you'll see all year, but the most entertaining...Shakespearean in its outsize scope and dramatis personae...'Junk' may remind audiences of 'The Big Short,' both in its masterful elucidation of a confusing subject and its shocking depiction of the corrupting influence of money. But 'Junk' is even more powerful because those doing the corrupting are in the room with us, and a small voice in the back of our heads is cheering them on. " Full Review
"Doesn’t exactly illuminate the mysterious process whereby corporate marauders...take over companies...What it does do, in this slickly directed production directed by Hughes, is capture the electric energy that fueled these aggressive acquisitions...None of these secondary characters are as fully developed as the two lead players...For a show with far too many people on stage, 'Junk' is actually in need of more people – maybe one or two of them with a heart." Full Review
“Akhtar spends much of the play briefing the audience on hostile takeovers and insider trading. But the details don’t feel sweaty…‘Junk’ melds a breadth of genres—crime story, tragedy, issue play, cautionary tale—into a fast-moving, broad-ranging social thriller…In Akhtar’s telling, this story is partly about male status and power…But it’s also about race, privilege, competing ideals and, of course, greed. Junk has a cast of 23, and the size of the production helps it cast a wide net of blame.” Full Review
“‘Junk’ means to be a crash course in crashing the market...Which means, in terms of stagecraft, that data trumps character…There are nearly two dozen characters running around the play, but none is particularly likeable or memorable. Mind you, that’s not a deal-breaker; 'Junk 'is entertaining stuff…Director Doug Hughes delivers a high-energy staging...But there’s little here you’d call revelatory…Even a fiduciary ignoramus might wonder if 'Junk' tells us anything we don’t already know.” Full Review
"The world of high finance of the 1980s is illuminated in fascinatingly meticulous detail...What we get is a financial fantasyland filled with undercurrents of greed, race, sex and other passions: all in all, a contemporary morality play. Make that immorality play... Akhtar’s writing is smart, focused and laser-sharp...The cast includes a handful of sterling performances...Director Hughes handles the action exceedingly well...Akhtar & Co. provide a theatrical jolt with 'Junk.'" Full Review
"With its clipped scenes and brisk, brash dialogue, 'Junk' feels poised, and not always easily, between moral tragedy and popcorn thriller. And it can’t quite make up its mind about the man at its center, a stance that seems intellectually honest and dramatically wimpy...'Junk' would be worth a lot more if the audience was given a better sense of what drives Merkin...'Junk' isn’t junk – it’s smart, speedy, often adroit. But an AAA play might dare some answers." Full Review
“’Nobody knows what any of this shit means!,’ cries one of the characters...Fortunately, Akhtar and his director Hughes makes these complex maneuverings fascinating and exciting, if not entirely understandable...Hughes’ crisp staging keeps the action moving as fast as those neon symbols on the stock market news zipper and the large cast create distinct and vibrant characters so we follow the sometimes confusing storyline.” Full Review
"If there’s little that feels unfamiliar or especially timely in 'Junk,' Akhtar has written a reasonably lucid primer on the process and logic of 1980s corporate takeovers...Director Doug Hughes makes the two and a half hours of the play go swiftly...It’s in one way to Akhtar’s credit that he creates no complete villains in 'Junk'...But there are also certainly no heroes." Full Review
“Akhtar spins a tough, muscular melodrama about the finance jungle, directed at breakneck speed by Hughes...It may initially strike audiences as a twice-told tale...But the playwright has plenty of fresh points to make...’Junk’ is also a much richer piece because Akhtar has taken the long view, connecting the dots between 1985 and today...Cheers to Lincoln Center Theater for producing this rangy, mordant new play and giving it the first-class production it deserves.” Full Review
"Akhtar is a perceptive writer with an ear for pithy dialogue, so he keeps it engrossing...What he can't do is make us care about these characters, which somewhat limits 'Junk' to the sphere of glossy info-tainment...'Junk' isn't lacking in food for thought, but as drama it's a little dry and unrelentingly talky...The writing is brutal, clever, often witty, and the production sharp as a tack. But many will be left wondering if they really needed this dispiriting recap." Full Review
“Hughes's production…drives the action like a race car, the engine's roaring captured in the high-decibel, 300-horsepower performances of almost every character. You get little opportunity to ponder the nuances of the complex fiscal and legal patois as Akhtar steers us down the twisting road…Despite the…shiny surfaces, including a sleek, abstract set by John Lee Beatty, the play never fully humanizes the characters or makes Merkin's intrigues all that compelling.” Full Review
"An ensemble so huge that it would have taken a Tom Stoppard —or a Shakespeare—to portray the individual characters as anything other than stick figures. Mr. Akhtar is talented, but not that talented...Doug Hughes has staged it with knock-’em-flat energy, and the production is as smoothly and propulsively wrought as the hostile-takeover plot is familiar...I esteem Mr. Akhtar for writing a big play about a big subject, but 'Junk' is too slick to be fully satisfying." Full Review
"You call this 'Junk?' I call it solid storytelling...What separates Akhtar’s play is how it so skillfully integrates the speed, size, and detailed plot mechanics of a high-stakes thriller with light comedy and space for the characters to consider how high finance both deviates from and reflects traditional American values...Even while many of the characters are underdeveloped, 'Junk' is engrossing from start to finish, and Hughes’ sleek, high-powered and fluid production never lags in moment... Full Review
"The timing of the play is the problem...The playwright’s consideration of junk-bond king Milken‘s manipulations of the market comes rather late in the day...Akhtar aims for his wrangle with junk bonds as a metaphor for any stripe of shady financial dealings, but that carries neither enough weight nor enough suspense to sustain this two-act piece...He might have racked up more points with something torn more definitively from 2017 headlines." Full Review
“This fictionalized account is largely on point — broad strokes, to be sure, but all-in-all accurate in spirit if not detail...The show paints a realistic picture of how it was...There is a huge cast, 24 people in all, some with several roles. All are good, or bad, as they are written. The direction is lively, the effects powerful, and, while set in the ‘80s, the moral desert of the money cult and the latter-day ‘kings’ in towers hold a very current punch. I’d say go.” Full Review
"Although playwright Ayad Akhtar's moralistic and cynical new drama...does not tell us much we do not already know, there is still something illuminating and undeniably stimulating about watching the multifarious fiscal sins of the ’80s all laid out before you...Especially as produced here, 'Junk" is an epic, strutting, restless, sexually charged, slam-bang-wham piece of work...A show ideal for those who become bored easily with traditional theatrical manufacturing." Full Review
"Akhtar's a caster of spells, which is possibly the only way into the gripping tale he tells here...It is searingly human. Akhtar has repeatedly shown a gift for creating individuals free of the kind of stereotyping that has marked so many accounts of the financial corruptions and collapse of the ’80...He refuses to paint in broad strokes...Accordingly, Hughes has staged the play with infinite detail and a kind of exquisite filigree in the way characters are motivated and defined." Full Review
"A Broadway play that’s accessible, but not illuminating or surprising...Polished but lacks a satisfying punch. A sly little jab at the end isn't the same thing...Doug Hughes directs a crisp and fluid staging...While most characters don’t elude cliches, the acting is uniformly fine...In the end, a loud-ringing message is that the almighty dollar corrupts all. True enough. Then again, we didn’t need 'Junk' to tell us that." Full Review
"Though perhaps not stuffed with forever treasured quips as most Shakespeare plays or without one really unforgettable quote like Wall Street's "greed is good", 'Junk' is nevertheless smartly scripted, and integrates multiple issues into the main plot with Shakespearean flair...Hughes keeps the multi-faceted plot developments moving at presto tempo...Thanks to the smart script and staging, the result is top to bottom excellence for the small as well as major role players." Full Review
“The writing borders on Shakespearean in its decidedly Machiavellian discontent. It’s expansive in its dense storytelling, complex in its plot, and concise in its structure...The play, as directed by the always solid Hughes is crisp and precise...’Junk’ is complicated and compelling, but I would add that Akhtar throws all the clichés and stereotypical behavior straight up and neat without a lot of surprises or twists of character." Full Review
"The lack of anyone sympathetic to root for is a problem for me. It is basically an ensemble piece with too many characters for any of them to be developed in much depth. If you are too young to remember the rise and fall of Milken, you may learn something new. Otherwise, your level of engagement may depend on your interest in finance and the economy...Hughes skillfully keeps the many strands under control." Full Review
"You have to scratch your head in wonderment at why the talented writer of 'Disgraced' bothered with a subject that movies have handled so much more effectively... 'Junk' might have been a guilty pleasure...Instead, Akhtar attempts to explain complicated business deals involving junk bonds and debt, and not for a moment does any actor on stage emerge as anything other than a pale avatar recycled from any of the movies mentioned above...In the theater, greed is now simply tedious." Full Review
"Akhtar has done his homework...Akhtar weaves the many threads of his plot into a complex tapestry, played out in a dazzling array of intersecting scenes...'Junk,' well-acted by a fine-tuned ensemble and spinningly directed by Hughes, threatens at times to be engulfed by its complicated story and hand-to-hand combat that reflect Akhtar's research and his efforts at developing the many characters and subplots." Full Review
See it if you read the business pages of your favorite paper. See it if you know what junk bonds are. See it for the intense acting.
Don't see it if Wall Street does not interest you, or you like a play that does not make you think or concentrate on the dialogue.
See it if You want an adult show, well acted, fast paced, with a cast that plays well off each other. The story is historical yet timely, and amusing.
Don't see it if You need happy endings, want character redemption, don’t like “wordy” shows, or care about the financial industry. It’s very focused.
See it if You don't mind overwritten plays that need editing and shortening. Despite a stellar cast, this play is an unfocussed snoozefest.
Don't see it if You like to stay awake in the theatre. You like to care about a character on the stage. You have to sit in the side sections.
See it if You understand the financial world they are in. Despite the constant exposition of what was going on I was still at times lost and confused.
Don't see it if You want a straight forward easy to understand story that doesn't revolve around high paced and interesting staging to keep you engaged.
See it if You enjoyed movies/plays of the Wall Street type. You believe “greed is good” to quote Michael Douglas.
Don't see it if Financial gains or creation of wealth are difficult concepts for you to understand.
See it if you are interested what was behind 80’s market scandals. Beautifully staged and well-acted. If you enjoyed the Big Short or Madoff stories.
Don't see it if Money manipulation is of no interest. If you don’t want to concentrate hard to follow the dense dialogue and plot with supporting concepts.
See it if you like historic plays and if you are interested in the stock market decline in the 80's. Production is iarge scale with large cast
Don't see it if if you only like musicals or if you don't care about plays about the stock market
See it if You have an MBA and your broker on speed dial , otherwise this play might as well be in another language
Don't see it if You want character development and a plot you can understand
See it if you are interested in the stock market scandals in the 80s. It’s a great production and beautifully acted, easy to follow.
Don't see it if you have no interest in the stock market.
See it if you enjoy intelligent writing, recall the market crash of 1987 & interested in the stock market and those who gamble on the Street
Don't see it if Wall Street and money manipulation doesn't interest you, you find complex narratives hard to follow, not a Steven Pasquale fan
See it if You want to see a lively, riveting, well-written play set in the conscienceless finance world of the 1980s.
Don't see it if You can't stomach the hubris and greed that is all too present in our economic and political structures.
See it if you want to see several good performances in a play that moves along so quickly you won't be bored even if you can't follow everything.
Don't see it if you care more about substance than slickness. The ride was fun, but I'm not sure it ultimately went anywhere.
See it if you like shrill Wall Street/ bad guy bashing....if you like your actors to shout their opinions. Good acting in painful script.
Don't see it if you like nuance or a touch of humor brought to a serious subject.
See it if you picked—and made an effort to understand—your own investments, considered that you’re voting w/ your dollars.
Don't see it if you want to feel moved or especially sympathetic. There are things to admire in Junk but I didn’t get the feels in the least.
See it if you enjoy slick productions with excellent staging, & interested in plays set in the finance world dealing with corruption/insider trading.
Don't see it if It has a different angle with junk bonds, but you probably have seen some variation of the same story. Good, but perhaps lacking originality
See it if top notch acting, staging yet informational--fast paced, intelligent and informative theater. A wonderful theater piece.
Don't see it if Have no interest in financial world specifically crises of past few decades and its general impact on US & World economy.
See it if you are interested in learning some things about the manipulation of the financial market. I enjoyed it and learned some history.
Don't see it if you don't want to see a play about the financial world.
See it if You enjoy the business world. Play too long and dense for newbies. Lead charismatic enough to invest 2.5 hours on. Siberry other standout.
Don't see it if you have little interest in business beyond the play. It's just a very long sit waiting for the kingdom to topple.
See it if you enjoyed the movies The Big Short or Wall Street, or shows that hold a mirror up to American business practices.
Don't see it if you can’t do heavy, fast-paced “finance talk.” If you’re not business savvy, all hope is not lost. Stretch your ear and you’ll get the gist.
See it if you want to see a clever and well-written play about greed and power. Moves very fast for how long the play is.
Don't see it if you really don't want to hear financial terms all night.