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Dry Powder

Members say: Great acting, Intelligent, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Funny
76
Critics
69
30 reviews
Members
77
127 reviews
 

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.

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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.

 

Cast & Creatives (11)



Reviews (157)

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
69
Avg Score

65
The New York Times

"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

85
Theatermania

"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

65
New York Post

"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

90
Variety

"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

85
Time Out New York

"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

90
The Huffington Post

"'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

80
New York Magazine / Vulture

"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

80
DC Theatre Scene

"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

45
Lighting & Sound America

"'Dry Powder' is surely a dryer exercise than its author intends...Thomas Kail's pacey production is harmed by the miscasting of one of the leads...'Dry Powder' has little in the way of energy or originality; its observations are too prefabricated and its satire is often reduced to mere finger-wagging. My advice? Consider this one a strong sell. " Full Review

65
Front Row Center

"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

80
The Huffington Post

"'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

55
The Hollywood Reporter

"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

75
AM New York

"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

25
Talkin' Broadway

"You won't learn anything here, except what you already know…Fancy, towering dressing can't camouflage the play's inherent one-dimensionality…If this can't or won't be any more than a mind-numbing melodrama, is it too much to ask that there at least be a villain we can hiss? Burgess, Kail, and Danes can't even give us that...Just as money can't guarantee salvation, love, or success, in 'Dry Powder' it can't lead to so much as a basic good time." Full Review

70
New York Daily News

"'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

45
Deadline

"Burgess writes smart dialogue that crackles…There are echoes of Caryl Churchill and David Hare in the theme of corporate dehumanization...'Dry Powder' lacks the concision and the devastating rhythmic patois in Mamet plays, a ruthless poetry. That makes for a very long unbroken hour and three-quarters…I suspect the actors will loosen up as the run continues, but at the critics’ performance I saw they seemed uncomfortable and stiff, as if exploring the play in an early reading." Full Review

80
CurtainUp

"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

55
Newsday

"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

95
TheaterScene.net

“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

35
The Wrap

"Why do plays about high finance always seem to be set in a 1990s disco?...I had to wonder if the playwright has ever visited a contemporary Manhattan office...Swinton and Blanchett have given nuance to this kind of ball-busting gorgon. Danes does not...Azaria and Krasinski are far more relaxed on stage, to the point that a peculiar subtext emerges. Are Burgess and Kail saying that men wear power naturally, while a woman has to huff, puff, and flail to get her way?" Full Review

75
Bob's Theater Blog

"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

60
NorthJersey.com

"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

85
WNBC

"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

80
Financial Times (UK)

"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

85
NJ.com

"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

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
77
Avg Score

75
Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Relevant, Cliched

See it if you understand the terminology and operations of hedge funds and venture capital and can follow staccato rendition of extensive dialog

Don't see it if you are unfamiliar with or not interested in finance, are not fluent in advanced English including financial terms or short attention span

73
Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Slow

See it if you're into plays delving heavily into economic theories & hedge fund lingo.

Don't see it if you're not into the above.

75
Intelligent, Banal, Great staging

See it if you like seeing familiar faces in unfamiliar roles, like unique staging, or quick wit.

Don't see it if you're expecting fantastic performances or can't follow a very dense and wordy plot.

Also The acting was a bit dissappointing, I can't help but thinking with a ... Read more Read less

78
Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if you want to learn more about the finance world. The cast was amazing, and was great to see them all perform close up.

Don't see it if you don't like Claire Danes or John Krasinski or Hank Azaria who were amazing in the show.

91
Original, Clever, Great acting, Intelligent, Relevant

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)

85
Great acting, Relevant

See it if you want to see a very timely play with a stellar cast

Don't see it if you were hoping to find very likeable and relatable characters

90
Ambitious, Intelligent, Riveting, Great writing, Great staging

See it if You want to see a drama destined to enter the pantheon of great American plays.

Don't see it if You want something comfortable and easy.

75
Clever, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Great writing

See it if You're a wall street mogul or wannabes

Don't see it if You cant count money in your wallet properly

65
Ambitious, Disappointing, Cliched

See it if you want to see stars up close; or if you have never thought about the amorality of hedge funds.

Don't see it if you want genuinely challenging or thoughtful theater; obvious plot points and simplistic messages abound. it's quick and occasionally funny

55
Intense, Quirky, Banal, Disappointing

See it if You want to see the celebrity actors. You like short plays with no intermission.

Don't see it if You've already had a day at the office. Most of the play takes place in business meetings.

69
Thought-provoking, Disappointing, Cliched, Overrated

See it if you are fascinated by income inequality issues; you just want to see the stars in the show

Don't see it if you need complex writing; you're interested in realism; you expect your playwrights and actors to do nuanced portrayals of real people

46
Banal, Disappointing, Cliched, Insipid, Slow

See it if you want to see John Krasinski "Jim" the camera, but an audience. you like endless jargon.

Don't see it if If you expect a play to be entertaining or have a point other than "these finance guys may be bad!"

81
Original, Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Great staging

See it if you like passionate characters who will defend their values in a high stakes work environment. Also, a minimalist set in an intimate space.

Don't see it if you don't like fast, technical dialogue. Though I will say even though I don't know financial jargon, I didn't feel I missed any plot points

90
Funny, Clever, Great acting, Great writing, Entertaining

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!)

45
Confusing, Disappointing, Overrated, Slow, Too complicated

See it if you want to see celebrities onstage and don't care about their mediocre acting. You're interested in the cutthroat world of finance.

Don't see it if you don't know anything about finance.. I was so confused and bored and the acting was not good. You want to be entertained and laugh.

65
Original, Disappointing

See it if you like John Krasinski/Claire Danes/Hank Azaria. Also if you have interest in finance and fairly dry plays about the business world.

Don't see it if you want a great story line and a moving performance by the actors. The performance was dry and the script was dull.

80
Absorbing, Ambitious, Clever, Great acting, Intelligent

See it if you love a great compelling story line

Don't see it if high speed smart dialogue is not your thing

75
Absorbing, Great acting, Relevant, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if you want to see a terrific cast and first-rate production values.

Don't see it if you are expecting to learn anything new or significant about private equity firms.

84
Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Entertaining

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.

76
Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Cliched, Entertaining

See it if you want a nuanced look at many current economic issues.

Don't see it if you can't see a work that doesn't present anyone who works in finance as a complete villain.

78
Funny, Great acting, Great writing, Entertaining

See it if the writing is quite sharp and funny (in a dark and cynical fashion). intimate theater-in-the-round. slick set/direction. excellent acting.

Don't see it if you'd like a more nuanced or slightly more morally ambiguous female pro/antagonist character.

66
Disappointing, Cliched, Entertaining

See it if you'd like to see an entertaining play acted by well-known celebrities.

Don't see it if you'd like to see a creative, original and challenging approach to the subject matter with well developed characters.

68
Intelligent, Relevant, Disappointing, Cliched, Good acting

See it if you enjoy bashing the 1% even if no new ground is broken.

Don't see it if you find 90 minutes of financial/investment discussion boring.

82
Absorbing, Edgy, Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking

See it if you don't mind keeping your brain engaged in your theatre going. It's a very smart script with a large financial world vocab. Accessible tho

Don't see it if you don't like lightning paced dialogue that involve concepts from the financial world. I was very pleasantly surprised. Great cast too.

82
Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Intelligent, Intense

See it if You would enjoy a well-constructed, superbly-acted play about morals versus corporate greed in the purchase of a company.

Don't see it if You want a light, fluffy fare, or have no understanding of finance, as much of the jargon will be foreign.