“Other People’s Money”

Long Wharf Theatre

“Other People’s Money,” Jerry Sterner’s 1989 play, is currently receiving a dynamite production at Long Wharf Theatre.  As skillfully directed by Marc Bruni, the show focuses on how Wall Street affects a small business, and the play feels nearly as fresh and significant as it did when it was first written.  Featuring a character called “Larry the Liquidator” (sensationally played by Jordan Lage), “Other People’s Money” examines the underbelly of stocks and trading and corporate buyouts, and the show moves swiftly throughout its two acts, often with a razor’s precision.

In addition to Jordan Lage, the rest of the cast is absolutely ideal and the production looks great, with an effective and inviting set designed by Lee Savage.  There is a 1991 film version of “Other People’s Money,” starring Danny DeVito, but I would recommend those who are going to see the Long Wharf Theatre production to keep from watching the movie just before seeing the show.  The surprises are indeed plentiful in “Other People’s Money” and it’s almost best to go in with fresh eyes.  This staging of “Other People’s Money” at Long Wharf Theatre ultimately proves to be quite a knockout.

Director Marc Bruni’s work is superlative, especially in eliciting such fine performances from his entire cast.  When the play begins, the audience is introduced to the workers at the New England Wire and Cable Company, including the fine Edward James Hyland, as Andrew Jorgenson, who founded the company.  There is immediate talk in the opening scene that there is a man from Wall Street coming to visit the small company, and his arrival sets the play in motion.  Also at New England Wire and Cable Company is William Coles, wonderfully portrayed by Steve Routman, who is due to inherit the business, once Jorgenson retires.  Routman also occasionally acts as something of a narrator, and some of the most effective moments in “Other People’s Money” are when the characters speak directly to the audience.

In a nice follow-up to her terrific performance in Long Wharf Theatre’s production of “Sylvia” several years ago, Karen Ziemba does a great job playing Bea, who also works at the company and, as we slowly learn, is more than a bit involved with Edward James Hyland’s Jorgenson.  Still, it must be stated that the most fascinating characters in the show are, ultimately, those closest to the devious world of corporate America.

As mentioned, Jordan Lage makes an excellent heel as “Larry the Liquidator,” whose shark-like movements to try and take over New England Wire and Cable Company are quite a sight to see.  However, in “Other People’s Money,” Jordan Lage meets his match in Bea’s daughter Kate, a high pressure Wall Street lawyer, brilliantly played by the pretty and strong-willed Liv Rooth.  Indeed, the scenes where “Larry the Liquidator” and Kate go head to head practically crackle with electricity, as the audience watches each character attempt to one-up the other.

Still, I would hate to give any more of the plot of “Other People’s Money” away, since this show proves to be quite a ride, offering equal amounts of humor and drama.  Long Wharf Theatre’s production of “Other People’s Money” is even more significant in its fusion of director Marc Bruni’s vision of the show matching the playwright’s intentions perfectly.  I didn’t see the original Off Broadway production of “Other People’s Money,” but I venture a guess that it could hardly have been much better or more effective than this current presentation of the play.  “Other People’s Money” at Long Wharf Theatre is enormously satisfying and, even though this play was written in 1989, its relevance to today’s corporate climate is almost chilling.

“Other People’s Money” continues performances at Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, CT through December 18, 2016.  For tickets, please visit www.longwharf.org or call the box office at 203-787-4282.

Photo: L-R: Jordan Lage and Liv Rooth

Photo by T. Charles Erickson

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