Closed 3h 20m
The Lehman Trilogy (Off-Broadway)
Upper E Side
91

The Lehman Trilogy (Off-Broadway) NYC Reviews and Tickets

91%
(138 Reviews)
Positive
95%
Mixed
4%
Negative
1%
Members say
Great acting, Great staging, Absorbing, Intelligent, Great writing

About the Show

Making its North American premiere, this National Theatre production traces the trajectory of western capitalism by following the fortunes of a single immigrant family. Directed by Sam Mendes.

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Member Reviews (138)

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79
Overrated, All male cast, Intelligent, Great set/music, Epic

See it if you're fascinated by immigrant stories. A doozy of Amer rags-to-riches. Avant garde staging. Fast pace. Many chars. Sweep of 150+ years.

Don't see it if you want a point to the 3 1/2 hours; TLB is just stylish storytelling. Or if you dislike men posing as women/yg kids. Or if boxes bore you. Read more

67
Informational only, Devoid of feeling, Mechanical, Dry, Disappointing

See it if You want to learn about the Lehman Bros history. OK performances of robotic material. Their story is very interesting. The script is not.

Don't see it if Passionless reciting of a Wikipedia entry. Very little dialogue. 3hr45min Read more

Critic Reviews (42)

March 28th, 2019

"Genuinely epic production, directed with surging sweep and fine-tooled precision by Sam Mendes...Under the inspired direction of Mendes, with a design team that understands the value of simplicity in doing justice to complex matters, 'The Lehman Trilogy' unfolds a tale of extravagant wealth with an even more dazzling economy of means...It’s the miracle of three men, on a nearly naked stage, resurrecting vanished lives and worlds, leaving an oddly indelible afterglow."
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March 28th, 2019

"If it weren’t for the superb work of Mendes, Devlin and the three astonishing performers, the heavy atmosphere might thicken into obfuscating fog. As it is, in the hasty final act, Massini tries to draw conclusions about a financial chaos he doesn’t understand and a show that has operated with gravity and grace spins out of control...As performance and staging, the first two sections of the trilogy are a titanic achievement."
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March 28th, 2019

"Strange, sleek beast: massive and dazzling on the outside, and in plenty of ways filled with virtuosity and vitality by a core of brilliant actors and top-of-their-game designers, all given the time and space to experiment, to build a world brick by brick with their ingenious director. But something is missing. The beast, for all its scale and artistry, is an automaton...The play is an epic feat of narration...It’s all technically intoxicating — and persistently without a point of view."
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March 28th, 2019

"This is theatrical storytelling at its most thrilling, a work of novelistic sweep and operatic crescendos, as rich in incisive character detail as it is in breathtaking visual coups...The play employs third-person narration to an audacious degree, and yet, under Mendes' unerring directorial hand it never feels static or cumbersomely expository. For such a long, dense narrative, it's unusually nimble, laced throughout with the wit and invention of great story theater."
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March 28th, 2019

"Time — more than a century, actually — really does seem to fly at the Park Avenue Armory, home at the moment to a spellbinding exercise in storytelling, as it can only be done on a stage...Visually, it’s all remarkable...Beale, Miles and Godley, bearing absolutely no resemblance to one another, convince us utterly that they are all cut from the same Lehman cloth; they propel the story with a force that feels aerodynamic."
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April 8th, 2019

“An astounding play with only one fault: It fails to mention that Henry, Emanuel and Mayer Lehman were slave owners...’The Lehman Trilogy’ has gotten rapturous reviews but usually with no mention of the hole in its moral heart. I, too, was dazzled by its three actors — who hold the stage for 3 1/2 hours — and by the staging, which consisted of one surprise after another, and even the lighting. It was a marvelous, unforgettable night of theater, a riveting reminder of why ‘live’ is so alive.”
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March 28th, 2019

"An unlikely epic drama and an unlikely must-see attraction...One would not have expected a play such as this to succeed — but indeed it does thanks to Massini’s distinct viewpoint, Mendes’ precise direction (which makes the production feel both sweeping and intimate), panoramic visuals, and live piano music that reflects each mood swing...Sharp, versatile performances all round."
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March 29th, 2019

"The saga of the Lehman Brothers is certainly nothing new; and in different hands, it could easily be a clichéd tale of rags to riches, innocence to greed. But as written by Stefano Massini, adapted by Ben Power, directed by Sam Mendes, and performed by three of the best actors in the world, it becomes an event not to miss!...Through narration and dialogue, the story unfolds with tremendous eloquence, very much like a fugue, riffing off repeated themes."
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March 28th, 2019

"This play's origin as a radio drama is evident by the way the performers narrate much of the story directly to the audience, an often distressing negation of the dramatic form that actually works well in a play like this, when there is so much ground to cover. It helps that there are three incredibly skilled actors driving the story...This grand mythology of banking might seem ridiculous if not for the steady and deceptively simple direction of Sam Mendes."
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March 29th, 2019

"This is theatre that breaks any number of rules, neatly getting away with every transgression. The sort of saga more suited to a novel than the stage, it nevertheless casts a spellbinding effect, causing three hours and twenty minutes to pass in seemingly no time at all; what could have been a stolid history lesson resonates eerily...As a study of capitalism and its discontents, it is hard to beat...'The Lehman Trilogy' rarely, if ever, puts a foot wrong."
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March 28th, 2019

"An astonishing theatrical event not to be missed...Told in three acts that breeze by. The production, under the direction of Sam Mendes, is altogether stunning...There is little one can say about the actors, whose combined accomplishments here are breathtaking...Mendes and Power came up with the three-actor concept, which brings such focus and fascination to this production."
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March 28th, 2019

"The text is, it must be said, not long on depth or nuance...But 'Trilogy' is nonetheless a masterful work on its own terms, its economy and directness serving to reconcile an expansive, gripping narrative with a strong lyrical bent...Massini has crafted a play that spans a range of eras and a specific immigrant experience in a way that feels timeless and universal."
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March 31st, 2019

"A theatrical event that’s both sprawling in scope and cunningly concentrated in execution. Even if you despise Wall Street and remain blissfully ignorant of supply-side economics, three superb British actors and one savvy director make you care about a clan of cold-blooded capitalists for almost three and a half hours...The piece loses force in its final third...The storytelling bones start to warp and crumble in a mass of theatrical razzle-dazzle and flash-forwarding."
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March 28th, 2019

"Three swift-moving hourlong chapters in which just three actors play all the roles...They will go on to take many other roles as well, for Mendes is a master of many theatrical forms, from the Story Theater of Paul Sills to the distancing Epic Theatre of Bertolt Brecht to agitprop theater of Joan Littlewood, all represented here...If money is the flour of the Lehman recipe, greed has been the yeast that made it grow. It’s all too frightening to extract the message from that story."
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April 10th, 2019

"While the last years are bit rushed in summary as the Lehman Brothers exit the business, this is both unforgettable theater as well as an easy to follow history lesson in high finance and the development of the American economy from 1844 - 2008 told through the rise and fall of one dynamic family. 'The Lehman Trilogy' is not to be missed by lovers of great acting, ingenious design, and epic storytelling."
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April 2nd, 2019

“Thrilling theatre—for the head, if not the heart...’The Lehman Trilogy’ is entirely plot...The text is largely narration...Power’s adaptation of Massini’s script wisely focuses on these few key players, so things never get confusing. The performances are outstanding in the subtlety and restraint; never showy or histrionic, these actors, without the aid of any extra props or costume pieces, create vivid portraits of men most of us have likely never heard of."
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March 29th, 2019

"It’s a spellbinding story, but the theatrical miracle lies in how it’s told...The power of The Lehman Brothers is that, like the plays of Bertolt Brecht, it’s a parable of a broader story...Ultimately, it’s a morality play—but one which refrains from offering an explicit moral, asking instead for the audience to draw its own conclusion...Meanwhile, it’s a theatrical marvel to behold. The trio offers tour de force performances—both as a flawless ensemble and as individuals."
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April 1st, 2019

"Beautifully translated and adapted by Ben Power, brilliantly staged by Sam Mendes,and sublimely performed by three incredibly versatile actors...It's a lesson that's so vibrantly and uniquely presented that for anyone lucky enough to nab a ticket 'The Lehman Trilogy' is likely to be their most memorable theater experience this season. It's certainly a highlight of my season. There isn't a participant in this extraordinary production who doesn't deserve a standing ovation."
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March 31st, 2019

“Despite an elegant design and phenomenal acting, this play...focuses on the bankers and ignores the common man...Despite the breathtaking design elements, Mendes’ clever direction, and shape-shifting, but not gimmicky performances...the fundamental problem of the play itself is that it neglects the darker side of Lehman Brothers Holdings...The novelistic narration gets tiresome...It’s poetic and descriptive, but rarely active...A conservative play, telling only the side of the banks."
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April 7th, 2019

"An inventively staged, extraordinarily acted, and historically blinkered theatrical epic...Its narrative feels like a spoken novel; the characters largely talk about themselves in the third person, with only occasional dialogue. Its language resembles a fugue, with poetic repetition and interweaving of phrases. Under the direction of Sam Mendes, it takes on the whimsical feel of a folk tale."
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C
April 3rd, 2019

"This 3 ½-hour play - adapted by Ben Power from Stefano Massini's five-hour radio play and directed with gorgeous simplicity by Sam Mendes - teaches (or reminds) us about American history, economics, the sociology of how family and culture changes over time, and, perhaps above all, the power of truly great acting, evidenced here by Simon Russell Beale, Ben Miles and Adam Godley."
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April 6th, 2019

"Everything about this epic-scaled work-other than its exceptional three-member cast-is expansive…Director Sam Mendes has crafted a magnificent work of theatre from Massini's tale…The big picture focuses on their business practices. Interesting as this information is, there's too much going on and at too fast a pace for us to become emotionally involved in anyone…Further heightening the storytelling is Devlin's remarkable set of a square, glass-walled, modernist financial office."
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March 27th, 2019

"Commanding performances...One rarely has the opportunity to witness acting at such a consistently fine level...I find the length problematic; it is either too long to hold our close attention or too short to do justice to both the personal and financial stories...While I would call this production a ‘must-see' for lovers of serious theater, I have to say that I admired it more than I enjoyed it.”
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March 28th, 2019

"It’s a tour de force of direction and writing and Devlin’s set rarely rests under Jon Clark’s always dramatic lighting...I learned next to nothing from 'The Lehman Trilogy' about why Lehman Bros. went belly up. But I wasn’t bored. Nor was I riveted... While Beale and Godley are fine playing the adult male Lehmans, their impersonations of women, children and rednecks are sometimes cringe-worthy...Miles delivers everything with the same leaden portentousness."
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W
April 1st, 2019

“Massini and Power show us a vast panorama of psychological and social change without losing intimacy...All three virtuoso actors play dozens of roles, morphing fluently through body language, accents, and speech patterns to differences in age, origin and sex. Remarkably, without costume change...More importantly, we believe who they are...Mendes has reached a pinnacle with ‘The Lehman Trilogy’. It’s utterly masterful.”
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T
April 3rd, 2019

"Massini’s script brilliantly details what could have a dry recitation of economic theory and history by emphasizing the personal stories of the Lehmans...Cards, tightrope walking, dancing, and torrential storms are all used to depict the ups and downs of the clan’s American journey. Director Sam Mendes skillfully finds theatrical movement to bring these concepts to life...On Es Delvin’s massive, revolving cube of a set, Beale, Miles and Godley become a galaxy of characters."
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March 30th, 2019

"I’m not sure when the show lost me...Not all is lost. Mendes’ direction keeps things moving along and Luke Hall's projections are acid-trip glorious...And the actors are flat-out terrific, adeptly modifying the inflection of their voices and the physicality of their movements as they slip into the roles of different characters. But there were simply too many people to keep track of and too little time to develop real feeling for any of them once the original siblings died...Its ambition seems outsized."
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April 17th, 2019

"The play flies by in no small part due to this suite of masterful performances under the precise direction of Sam Mendes...In the final analysis, I was impressed by the scale and ambition of this work, but dispirited and flabbergasted by its tone-deaf politics. The legacy of Lehman Brothers ought to be told with the proper context, otherwise the lessons of the Lehman brothers can’t be properly learned."
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March 28th, 2019

"The story is grand, and yet also very self-contained, timid, and safe; this is more allegory than history and more factsheet than drama...The three actors and their director treat the Lehman story as a precise, clean ballet. Stefano Massini’s script, adapted by Ben Power, is one of wit, debate, poetry and soliloquy; not mess, complication, and moral ambiguity...The story is dense with detail, too much; it's like a clever child in class with its hand up all the time."
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March 29th, 2019

"There is an eerie sense of emptiness here that evokes the invisible abstraction of money itself. Filling that void are magnetic and remarkably versatile performances by Simon Russell Beale, Adam Godley and Ben Miles, who morph from the original brothers into their descendants and countless other characters...Mirroring the increasingly frenetic pace of deregulated finance, the action veers in a surreal and playful direction."
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March 29th, 2019

"Through three complex acts, these actors are exemplars of their craft as they take on countless characters...The superbly acted, technically stunning production, directed with a sure hand by Sam Mendes, flies although it runs more than three hours, imparting along the way valuable lessons about the workings of the financial market. But it's the human story, the richness of the immigrant experience, that stays with you."
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March 31st, 2019

"I would have happily watched it for three-and-a-half hours more...This epic saga is performed by just three actors...The men alternately narrate the story and play the dozens of characters who populate it. You’ll have a fun time trying to decide which of the three is your favorite...The play itself is audacious and moving, daring to use of the story of the Lehmans as a microcosm for the entire history of the United States...It’s a masterpiece."
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T
March 27th, 2019

“Three act masterpiece...The explanation of the business and its evolutions, particularly in the first two acts, is exemplary storytelling...The actors are astonishing in their ability to inhabit so many people...Mendes directed this outstanding production with both brilliant style and focused storytelling...If I had one small quibble, it would be with the third part...Highly recommended for theatergoers who enjoy superb actors giving outstanding performances."
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W
March 30th, 2019

"It transforms the history of the firm into an elegy on the tragedy of American capitalism...The language, and the compelling way the story is told, makes the piece sound like a radio play...But in director Sam Mendes's hands, it's a theatrical triumph...It is desperately funny, and moving, and entertaining, speeding through so quickly that it's almost a shock to discover it's over. This is a magnificent work...It somehow intimately understands both the triumph and the tragedy of America."
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March 31st, 2019

"A major theatrical event not to be missed...All these characters are played by the same three actors...We come to know all these characters intimately and feel various sympathies for them...Because it is told from their point of view, it doesn’t traffic in moral judgements, nor does it invite ours. We are simply there, in it, with them, marvelling at their ingenuity, their eccentricities, their brilliance."
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N
March 28th, 2019

"One of the finest plays I’ve ever seen...It’s impossible to imagine a more spellbinding evening of theater, and the way the actors interact with one another — they are so frequently in motion that the play is practically a dance, to the tune of a near-constant piano score played live at the front of the stage — is precision itself...Rendered with an exceptional gift for clarity; rare is the Wall Street saga that is easily understood but also doesn’t seem dumbed down."
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April 1st, 2019

"Sam Mendes thrillingly ambitious, virtuosic staging of Stephano Massini’s 2013 play now playing at New York’s Park Avenue Armory, is far more than a fiscal history lesson...It’s one of the richest, most informative and ultimately thought-provoking plays of the decade...Laced with insight, wit and humanity, it gets under the skin of these frequently driven men, first, second or third generation immigrants all."
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July 13th, 2018
For a previous production

"What sets 'The Lehman Trilogy' apart is its exceptional concentration of narrative simplicity and depth, in which minimal resources seem to expand into unlimited riches...You are pulled you into its unceasing tidal sweep, as tickled as a toddler with a bedtime story that promises endless permutations. That’s partly because the play’s performers, under Mr. Mendes’s impeccably paced direction, are so inventively mutable."
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July 13th, 2018
For a previous production

“Massini’s script is a classy affair, storytelling that’s at once sumptuous and spare...On top of clear-sighted financial analogies, Massini never lets an irony pass us by...’The Lehman Trilogy’ succeeds because of its scope...At times, the narrative could use a firm shake...Massini’s script is poor theatre, a story built out of nothing. Mendes’ high-end staging is most certainly not. It’s artful, richly layered, elegantly done, but it’s also missing that vital spark of life.”
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July 13th, 2018
For a previous production

“An intimate epic that becomes a masterly study of acting as well as of the intricacies of high finance...Although Power’s adaptation studiously avoids giving us any lectures, it is hard not to see the play as an account of the shifting definition of the American dream...It would be fascinating to know more about the subprime mortgage scandal, and the way the firm removed liabilities from its balance sheet to create a misleading impression of its stability. Otherwise, this is an engrossing evening.”
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July 13th, 2018
For a previous production

“An epic that aims to chart the entire hubristic history of American capitalism...All three performers are magnificent...Some may regret that ‘The Lehman Trilogy’ doesn’t give you the lowdown on the subprime mortgage industry or debt-swallowing shadow companies...But, in general, this is a powerful, thought-provoking play and Mendes has directed it with extraordinary elegance and penetration.”
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July 13th, 2018
For a previous production

“Ultimately, Massini’s attempt fails. We would not be interested in the story of these three Lehman brothers if we had not already been made aware of the importance of the end of the story of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. As such, the tale has no intrinsic value as a substance, nor any conferred market value as a tradable good; its value is declared only. Philip Lehman would surely have avoided dealing in that kind of thing.”
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