Photo by Don Kellogg

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Invisible Hand

A force to be reckoned with, Ayad Akhtar has penned yet another powerful drama now playing out on the stage at New York Theatre Workshop.  He's currently on Broadway representing his Pulitzer prize winning work, Disgraced.

This time around he has infused cultural anger and religion in a new way - a kidnapping of an American banker in Pakistan who has to literally trade his way out of captivity.   Potent, riveting, intelligent, and well explained, (I felt like i needed to short a stock after I left the theatre!) the show succinctly laid out our different religious and societal beliefs between the west and east and proved through plot twists and revelations throughout the show how money and power corrupts and just how absolutely it does so.
Photo from Seattle Production

Justin Kirk (Nick Bright) must have taken a crash course in the stock market and its various economic theories in order to master this role - and master it he did.  He was quite literally like the play's namesake - an Invisible Hand - guiding us through the technicalities of the market. Part sheepish boy, part super-intelligent banker, his character seemed at ease with this tough role.  Dariush Kashani (Imam Salem) walked a tough line between religion, beliefs, and corruption with his tragic character.  Usman Ally (Bashir) portrayed his character with zeal, zest, and power.  Young, eager, and possibly the most corrupt and most compassionate at the same time.  His word, in the end, was his most honest trait.

The brutal honesty of this play told through the lens of a kidnapping and the captors lends new credence to the idea that we really don't know the power of our respective cultures and when they meet the consequences can be explosive.