A feisty, fast-paced play, that delivers some witty one liners and a whole lot to think about
When Sarah Burgess wrote her play Dry Powder about New York-based private equity company it was pre-Trump presidency and yet when I was watching the play I couldn't help thinking 'what would Donald do?'.
At the start of the play Rick's (Aidan McArdle) firm is going through a PR storm because the same day as laying off staff at a company he'd just bought, he threw a lavish engagement party.
Co-founder Seth (Tom Riley) has unearthed a bargain deal which he believes will put the company back in favour with the public eye: A troubled American suitcase manufacturer whom he believes that with the right management could get back on its feet and deliver a healthy return.
Profit or positive PR
His fellow co-founder Jenny (Hayley Atwell) has another plan, one that is less risky, will deliver better returns but won't deliver the positive PR as jobs won't be protected. Jenny doesn't care about PR, she cares about profit.
Seth has (developed?) a conscious about what he does, he wants to create more than profit, particularly given the firms damaged reputation. He's got to know Jeff (Joseph Balderrama), the CEO of the suitcase company and they are seemingly on the same page.
Does your family accumulate billions by taking the riskier, lower return path? Has that route got Rick to a place where he can afford extravagant parties and a wedding held in Bali?
No room for sentimentality
Jenny is ruthless. There is no room for sentimentality, she sees her work with cold, dispassionate eyes. There is no sign of a conscience about what she does.
Her whip-crack verbal sparring with Seth is always a spiky, no-holds barred affair. They seem to enjoy it, feed off each other with no hard feelings.
On the surface it's a simple dilemma: profit vs people but on a human level is Jenny actually the better person for being completely honest? And does concern for others have a price tag?
A play about a private equity company, given the reaction of the people I've mentioned it to, sounds as dry as the title but this is a feisty, fast-paced play, that delivers some witty one-liners and a whole lot to think about. I'm giving it five stars.
It's 1 hour and 40 minutes and is at Hampstead Theatre until March 3.