With the heavy cloud of Donald Trump's approaching administration laying upon us, even as his billionaire cabinet trundles into place, a reprise of playwright Jerry Sterner's "Other People's Money" offers a much needed tutorial on the damage run amok capitalism has wrecked upon American society in recent decades.
This comedy with an edge lays bare the empty soul at the heart of a "market-based" economy that values only the bottom line, never mind the people whose lives are often crushed when numbers shift.
Often laugh-out-loud funny, the comedy with an edge lays bare the empty soul at the heart of a "market-based" economy that values only the bottom line, never mind the people whose lives are often crushed when numbers shift, in this case 1,200 workers whose jobs are at stake in a corporate takeover.
Played by Kent Minault, Jorgensen is an old-fashioned industrialist who has poured his life and soul into New England Wire & Cable, a venerable company that the times and advancing technology have passed by. Despite dogged work by its manager, Coles (played by Peter Michael McDonald), the company hasn't turned a profit in a decade even as it has gained market share in a shrinking market.
Into the scene comes Larry "The Liquidator" Garfinkle (Rob Shapiro), a Wall Street shark who smells blood in the water. Using the kind of predatory tactics that have put so many companies out of business, Garfinkle launches a hostile takeover designed to dismantle Wire & Cable, sell off its assets, and, of course, make a bundle for his trouble.
Jorgensen marshals his troops to mount a defense, relying on Coles, his faithful assistant and companion, Bea (D.J. Harner), and her daughter, Kate (Robyn Cohen), a crackerjack Wall Street attorney who develops a range of legal, financial, and sexual counteroffensives to the corporate raider's ardent advances.
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Sharply acted throughout, the two-act play is at its strongest in representing often arcane Wall Street tactics—leveraged buyouts, golden parachutes, green mail, poison pills, white knights—in ways that clearly lay out the moral choices involved.
As repulsive as Garfinkle might be, in both his financial depredations and his off-hand sexual affronts—reminiscent of Donald "Grab 'Em By The Pussy" Trump's finer moments—the corporate raider mounts a quite logical defense for letting market forces have their way even at the cost of considerable pain for his game's losers.
If only the long-time mill hands who raised families on the salaries Jorgensen could pay over the decades will find some comfort as retrained hamburger flippers and security guards.
Alternate cast members include Rob Adler (Garfinkle), Amanda Carlin (Bea), Barry Heins (Coles), John Towey (Jorgensen), and Alexandra Wright (Kate).
Directed by Oliver Muirhead and produced by Daniel James Clark, Interact Theatre Company's "Other People's Money" plays at the Pico Playhouse, 10508 W. Pico Boulevard, Los Angeles, 90064, on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. through December 18th. Go here for tickets and information.
Editor, Hollywood Progressive