The Lehman Trilogy ★★★★★ Gillian Lynne Theatre | Until May 20, 2023

This story of the Lehman brothers is both a fascinating chronicle about the creation of an immigrant dynasty and a darkly disturbing commentary on American capitalism. It is a truism about family businesses that few of them survive the third generation, and while this is also the case here, the story is much deeper than the arc of a single family enterprise. As the play moves from being about the Lehman brothers to being about Lehman Brothers Inc., the story becomes a metaphor for the development of an impersonal, amoral and abstract world of finance. From the 19th through the 20th century, the Lehman family move from buying and selling tangible goods to being "middlemen" to becoming bankers. By the 21st century, they are trading in financial products in a manner that is incomprehensible to even those at the empire's centre. The play becomes a completely engrossing reflection on how economic and social realities have evolved. The world of marketing and consumerism is born and will change society. Despite the fact that the show is largely narrated, Stefano Massini's script, as adapted by Ben Power, manages to engage the audience's imagination, and the performances by Michael Balogun, Hadley Fraser and Nigel Lindsay are positively compelling. The three of them populate the stage with a plethora of believable characters and move seamlessly among various personae, from young to old and from gender to gender. The direction of Sam Mendes is simply masterful, and it is beautifully enriched by Luke Halls' video design. This show once again demonstrates the extraordinarily high level of production values that has become the hallmark of the National Theatre. If you want to get a notion of how we got into the financial mess of 2008 and how business has changed, in turn changing all of us, you must see this play.

Rated: ★★★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Photo by Mark Douet.

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