The Public Theater presents the world premiere of a new comedic drama about the people shaping, and skewing, the American economy, starring John Krasinski, Hank Azaria, and Claire Danes. More…
The same week his private equity firm forced massive layoffs at a national grocery chain, Rick (Hank Azaria) threw himself an extravagant engagement party, setting off a publicity nightmare. Fortunately Seth (John Krasinski) has a win-win deal to invest in an American-made luggage company for a song and rescue his boss from a PR disaster. But Jenny (Claire Danes) has an entirely different plan: to squeeze every last penny out of the company, no matter the consequences. Thomas Kail ('Hamilton') directs.
“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.” Full Review
"A frighteningly funny play…It falls to director Thomas Kail and his diamond-cut cast to make this dry subject enthralling and horrifying…Danes’ cool characterization of a businesswoman with ice in her veins is harsh, but very funny. The showdown between Jenny and Seth may seal the fate of Landmark Luggage, but it’s only the plot, not the point of this timely play, smartly directed by Kail with focus and efficiency." Full Review
"'Dry Powder' is altogether crackling, allowing us to cut through the jargon and delve into an engrossing power-play…The cast is top grade...Azaria is massively good here as the master of his universe; brilliant, powerful and rapacious…Danes matches him…Amping up the electricity of Burgess’s script is director Thomas Kail…The play—and the performers—crackle throughout, although they might want to do some trimming…'Dry Powder' absolutely sizzles." Full Review
"A sharp new play about the precarious intersection of politics and modern finance. With biting wit and shrewd insight, Burgess pulls back the veil on private equity and gets to the bottom of why it is so especially loathed…Director Thomas Kail crafts a sleek production to wrap around these thrillingly caffeinated performances…The contrivance of characters and plot is almost too tidy, inevitably stumbling over itself…Still, as agitprop, 'Dry Powder' is remarkably effective." Full Review
"The play's depiction of class and consciousness is more nuanced than it may seem at first. Burgess conveys not just the language of the high-stakes game she depicts—financial jargon is woven nimbly into the snappy dialogue—but also the differing mindsets of its players…The play makes sharp points about the power and limitations of protesters, but its focus is on Wall Streeters’ view of themselves...'Dry Powder' feels extraordinarily timely." Full Review
"Sarah Burgess's tremendously entertaining, swift as lightning new play...Burgess is operating in the same biting, darkly comic key as 'The Big Short,' forcing us to alternately identify with and recoil in horror at these soulless capitalists. 'Dry Powder' is a comedy meant to make you a little sick to your stomach...This brand of morality-play-among-the-amoral isn't anything new. But Burgess has a fine ear for the clubby patois of business people...The stars don't disappoint." Full Review
"Burgess's smart, acidic take on the financial services industry indicts capitalism through a sharp portrait of the one percent....The star-studded ensemble supports this production, efficiently inhabiting Burgess's cutthroat world...This repeated ethical tangling does get repetitive...But even this feels theatrically strategic; the more we hear these traders arguing, the more we realize who's missing from the argument, who's deliberately not depicted onstage. That would be the rest of us." Full Review
"You get plenty of bang for your buck with Sarah Burgess’ 'Dry Powder,' and that’s just when it comes to the leads...Watching Danes and Kransinki lob insults at one another for 95 minutes is nearly entertainment enough… 'Dry Powder' evokes films like 'Wall Street,' posing questions about whether we’re all just looking out for our own self-interest. The performances are good, and the simple cube-based set works nicely." Full Review
"Their banter is as amusing in its way as the repartee by the couple in a romantic comedy…except in this play, Seth and Jenny most certainly do not wind up falling in love. The playwright’s interest is elsewhere. She has something pointed and sophisticated to say about the economic engine and the people who drive it, and she does so with a couple of unexpected twists." Full Review
"What is troubling about 'Dry Powder' dramaturgically is that almost none of its crises or challenges arise from character. Rather, they arise from externally induced plot developments...That 'Dry Powder' is nevertheless a fully engrossing and entertaining play is a testament to Burgess’s terrific dialogue and to the beautifully paced and acted production...If only the excesses of our beautiful free-enterprise system were as amenable to correction as a promising young playwright’s!" Full Review
"Burgess isn't exactly breaking new ground in writing about the human cost of family run businesses being taken over...Kail's slick production and Burgess's snappy, combative dialogue expertly and distinctively delivered by the cast make for a consistently entertaining pacey 95 minutes...I admit that I find plays about people affected by the likes of Ms. Burgess's characters make more compelling and longer lasting impressions than those about people responsible for their problems." Full Review
"'Dry Powder' finds humor in the intensely competitive elements of American capitalism...Burgess has written an interesting play. It’s mostly surface, since her characters are, for the most part, fundamentally shallow, whatever personal delusions they possess. It does, however, reinforce our fears of Wall Street’s easy betrayals. Her good fortune is to have such an expert cast deliver a well-honed message." Full Review
"Business-themed drama frequently revolves around a clash between munificent optimism and greedy pessimism...Burgess thus trades depth of characterisation for intense realism. Under Thomas Kail’s low-key direction, the bargain is largely successful...And while the deluge of figures and acronyms can be overwhelming, this too seems to be in the service of authenticity...'Dry Powder' reveals such sub-Jobsian bombast to be just as hollow as its Wall Street equivalent." Full Review
"Burgess's play is a parable, really, a story from the finance-sector's point-of-view about why money so often trumps humanity in a capitalist society. It's funny, sleek and well-told, thanks to director Thomas Kail, who whirls his four-person cast across the stage, set in the round. Claire Danes has great comic timing as Jenny, a woman who cares more about numbers than people...It may not be the world we want to live in, but 'Dry Powder' says it's the world we have." Full Review
"Burgess is clever and throughout her smart, sharp play, it seems dry powder can refer to not just funds that are expendable, but people, too...Playwright Burgess skillfully draws all four characters fully, giving each of them a distinct dialect, if you will. None of them speak in exactly the same way, helping to distinguish their personalities. For all its merits, including Kail's use of Rachel Hauck's scenic design as a storytelling device, I found 'Dry Powder' to be just fine." Full Review
"The text, which is stuffed with insider financial terminology, can be repetitive and didactic. But in Kail’s sleek, spare, in-the-round staging, it makes for a high-powered debate on contemporary business ethics. Burgess deserves a lot of credit for tackling the subject. There ought to be more plays about big business and finance, just as there should be more plays about government and political issues. Too often, American drama is confined to exploring domestic life." Full Review
"The production values set a high standard for the play to match. It almost succeeds. Burgess has written snappy dialog for vivid characters…For most viewers there will be few surprises and little new information about high finance. The play also becomes somewhat cartoonish and repetitive at times. Nevertheless, with its outstanding cast and stylish production, it is often tremendously entertaining." Full Review
"Private equity types will undoubtedly say 'Dry Powder' plays on caricatures and stereotypes more than reality. But they will probably find themselves laughing at the play’s quick-fire gallows humor...In an election year with Wall Street on the hot seat, the play is topical...It is hard to say that those working in the industry will like the conclusions playwright Sarah Burgess reaches about their chosen field and the personalities who inhabit it...That is not to say they won’t be entertained." Full Review
"'Dry Powder' is a dramedy about finance dusted with cynicism that’s an inch thick. That’s about as deep as Sarah Burgess’ slick, timely, well-acted but predictable play goes…Credit Burgess, a relative newcomer, for her fast-paced script…The play’s talk of leveraged buyouts and business lingo is ever accessible. Direction by Thomas Kail cranks the tension and entertainment value to the max…But superficial and stereotypical characters nag." Full Review
"Sarah Burgess’ play doesn’t quite rise to the level of its deluxe cast and director. It takes a while to get going — too long. The show’s first half bogs down in pseudo-important business talk…Krasinski and Danes comfortably play to their strengths…But the show itself belongs to Azaria, who’s scarily believable as a manipulative Master of the Universe…You only wish the actors — and the playwright — toyed more with ambiguity. In the end, the characters do just what you’d expect of them." Full Review
"These people may live their jobs, but watching them do so does not have infinite appeal, unless you enjoy clucking at amorality for 100 minutes…If there’s an element of stiffness in Danes’s nonetheless tartly funny performance, it probably derives from a glaring lack of nuance in the character...For all its flashy talk, 'Dry Powder' mostly brings us the unsurprising news that the folks who work in the higher realms of high finance are very, very interested in making lots and lots of money." Full Review
"Sarah Burgess is a terrific writer who knows her characters and her subject matter and who, even better, does not talk down to us. She sets a quick pace from the the get-go and never slows down…All of this would work perfectly well if Ms. Danes did not seem to be in a different production all together…As to the rest, Azaria, Krasinski and De Silva give us nuanced and difficult-to-watch performances...Still they are not enough to overcome the weight of Ms. Danes lack of involvement." Full Review
"It's well-acted and not uninteresting in its detailing of high-finance deals, but you keep wondering: Why are you telling me this again?...The play's impact can be measured by its climax. Everything has been leading up to the Big Decision: Whose plan will Rick choose? When the answer comes, it's worth a shrug. Nothing has been established that makes the outcome matter." Full Review
"Thoroughly unsurprising...That's disappointing, as a lot of A-grade talent has been assembled for this vigorously acted world premiere…The twisty financial details are mapped out with admirable clarity in Burgess' writing, but that doesn't make it any less predictable…Kail distills the drama into a fast, fat-free staging…The actors have a firm grasp of their characters and bring plenty of bite, which keeps it engrossing and often quite funny…But this is an unrewarding, one-dimensional play." Full Review
"The 95-minute drama is just a minor addition to the capitalist-as-shark literature — less giddy with style than 'Glengarry Glen Ross' and 'Serious Money,' less probing than 'The Big Short' and 'Billions'...The Public Theater has devoted impressive acting and directing resources to this taut but talky and ultimately unremarkable work." Full Review
See it if you like modern drama. It has a great cast giving a both humorous and thoughtful peek at a side of business that not many get to see.
Don't see it if you hate not getting every little detail. They talk about numbers that you don't really need to understand, but it is more fun if you do.
See it if you're in the 99% and feelin' the Bern. Scathing, laugh-out-loud dialogue staged in the round, evoking the combat of a boxing/UFC ring.
Don't see it if you are (or aspire to be) the vampire squid and the pharmabros -- this show will bring on a world of butthurt.
See it if You love Claire Danes, love intimate off Bway houses, are involved in the economic politics of the day. Gripping characterization of greed.
Don't see it if You prefer a relaxed evening at the theater, do not want to question the morals of our times.
See it if you want a thought-provoking evening with famous actors who are damn fine at their craft
Don't see it if you are not into finance as a subject for a play (but it's not about finance)
See it if interested in investment banking, love simple stories with great characters and acting
Don't see it if you're aggressively not interested in investment banking (the play might still be accessible, though -- it was to me!)
See it if You like great actors who love the craft of acting and an intimate theater experience, essential and minimalist in scope.
Don't see it if You prefer large scale showy productions.
See it if You're interested in seeing great actors in a funny and entertaining examination of the social good of high finance.
Don't see it if You don't care for shows where characters stand in for macro ideas.
See it if You enjoy watching great actors deliver a well-written play about a current topic. It is both funny and dramatic at the same time.
Don't see it if You cannot pay attention to intense non-stop dialogue. If you need hearing assistance , get the device before the play begins.
See it if you watch the show Billions and enjoyed the big short. If you want to see play about wall street type people if a very straight forward way
Don't see it if you don't like dense economic talk and something without a happy ending
See it if You are interested in the finance world and you really wanna see some wonderful celebrity actors at work. The cast was phenomenal.
Don't see it if You are looking for something less realistic and mundane. The plot is centered around a business deal that not everyone would find amusing.
See it if You appreciate good acting. The four actors are top-notch and the storyline is intriguing.
Don't see it if You are easily confused by financial terms. This exists solely in the world of finance.
See it if Parallels plot of Wall Street movie-family owned company at the mercy of a big equity firm that is looking to liquidate it for $$- no mercy!
Don't see it if You're not a fan of the movie. Not for everyone-all the finance jargon could be tedious, the topic dry and morals R 4 sale. Amazing cast!
See it if you want to see masterful handling of technical material. This show presents moral crisis of finance in a well built narrative.
Don't see it if you are overly sympathetic to the finance industry. The play is missing a bit of nuance on that scale.
See it if you don't have a preset opinion about how financial firms impact society and are willing to see both sides of the story.
Don't see it if you just want to see celebrities and don't want to pay attention or think.
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