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Written by Sharyn Rothstein
Directed by Ron Canada
4th Street Theater
83 East 4th St, NYC
Reviewed Sept 14, 2011 by Larry Litt
Losing money is always a dramatic situation. If it's ours it can signal losing personal power, status and security. We feel weakened by numbers reduction even though there's no direct physical violence to our bodies. However losing money causes mental violence. Risk averse means mental pain averse. However if it's other people's money that one is supposed to protect from loss, it's a whole other kind of mental assault. "The Invested" is a powerful play about how master game players act and react, bait and switch, push and pull each other into mental violence using the power of money gained and lost in Wall Street's major banks.
Warning, this play is not for audiences seeking 'how to' knowledge so they can play the money investing game better. Playwright Sharyn Rothstein wants to show us the dark unethical, immoral underbelly of Wall Streeters who recently lost untold billions during the market crashes in this decade. This play is topical yes, but also a psychological study of survival in a game of corporate secrets and espionage that can lead to collapses of entire investment markets.
As the career driven, massively successful feminist banker Catherine Murdock, Christina Haag deeply defends career and personal attacks from Bill Enoch the new CEO of MetroBank, wittily and dastardly played by Thomas Hildreth. These two fine actors fire poison tipped psychological arrows into each other for two hours without a break. Rarely do I feel intense compassion for a character as I did for Haag's Catherine. Fortunately for the audience their executive suite battlefield conversations lead to unforced ironic humor that broke the deliberate stress into knowing belly laughs. I felt I was eavesdropping on conversations that no one but their psychoanalysts would hear about nor understand.
When retired businessman and long time client Sid Simon, played as a burlesque second banana comedian with a big heart by Bill Cwikowski, asks Christine Murdock to invest his very large profit from selling his Miami Beach condo, Christina invests it in a shaky but vetted mutual fund operated by the newly appointed MetroBank CEO Bill Enoch. The fund has a double A rating, it's earnings are competitive and Christina invests Sid's money with her usual confidence.
Now here's a reversal for you. Some little 'geek' analyst at Standard and Poor's ratings agency has delivered the opinion that MetroBank's newest mutual fund actually deserves a BBBB minus rating, in other words this new investment sucks. Panic ensues at MetroBank as truths, manipulations and denials abound. Christine's cute but innocent new assistant Madeline (Turna Mete) becomes a corporate spy as she sleeps with a young married financial analyst Henry, incredibly funny and geekily played by Michael Daniel Anderson. He seduces Madeline with reports of document shredding and other nefarious activities in the executive offices.
However the greatest betrayal is by MetroBank's major stockholder through inheritance Jane Griffin, who originally supports, then aids in the defanging and declawing of Christine. Judith Hawking gives a mind blowing performance, "The Devil Wears Prada" of Wall Street. Jane is the dominant figure in this investment bank, she intends to remain powerful at any cost. Her performance is a warning to all corporate climbers: beware the rich beautiful board member who wants to help you. She's also helping herself toward much greater rewards.
Director Ron Canada has embedded his cast into MetroBank, he's given them a home in this bullring of an investment bank. As a reward the audience leaves with a very high return for its time. I highly recommend this tragicomedy for all who want to know how the money story can be brilliantly told.
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