63 Trillion at The Odyssey Theatre

by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move

Money. Sex. Bad behavior….just another day at the stock exchange. 

There are approximately 63 trillion dollars on the line in fees, investments and customer assets and no one but the intern seems to care all that much in the New American Theatre’s world premiere comedy 63 Trillion written by John Bunzel (Born to Be Wild, The Wonder Years) and Steve Zuckerman (Anger Management, Golden Girls) currently playing at the Odyssey Theatre, Los Angeles, CA.

When global financial markets go radioactive, predators stand poised for a fight to the finish. Partnerships prove to be perilous and laws are meaningless in the jungle of scheming money managers.

And let me pause right here, right now with a precursor to this review.  I worked on Wall Street for many years.  So it’s been kind of a fun experience to have a first hand knowledge about what really happens on the Stock Exchange and how THIS show decided to tell its story.

Lerner Cicchini Stehlin-63 Trillion New American TheatreIt was certainly entertaining enough for audiences who laughed for the entire 90 minutes plus intermission and usually that’s good enough for me. But the dark comedic portrayal of these semi-delusional, money hungry, Gordon Gekko-wannabe “Masters of the Universe” is on one hand so close to the “senior level management truth” that it almost makes this play plausible; but then so over-the-top comedic that in the end it is simple outrageously farcical.  Does this stuff happen?  Occasionally, which is why Jeffrey Jones’ vicious play for a mega client-advisory takeover and the wealthiest one we come to find out is actually orchestrating the cataclysmic Chinese hedge fund crash which has them all scheming around, is so delicious that we obscenely root for Jones (Dick) in all his diabolical if not perverse, grandeur.

And when on-the-surface thoughtful up & comer Jonah (played by Noah James) is told “You’re just passing through on the way to somewhere (else) so I don’t want to teach you about wealth management!”, it’s even more nectarous when Johah impressively gorilla-warfare style turns the game on everyone else, to Dick’s ultimate delight and advantage.

63 Trillion New American Theatre comedyThere is some serious hilarity going on by way of what often comes across as a bunch of high school boys trying to figure out how to cheat on an Algebra test and lots of exhaustive sidelines that come into play.  When lawyer Megan Gallagher (Nancy) arrives on the scene to mete out out the punishments (some of these guys are going “down!” for more than bad behavior), ordering the boys to their respective corners, it gets little a la Sr. Mary Margaret parochial and consequently a bit slapstick funny and the show takes a whole other life on a different track.  

On the down side, there are too many scene changes and the second act feels like an different show. But Robert Cicchini brings his “Jersey Boy” (spot on!) A game as does Megan Gallagher, Ken Lerner Jack Stehlin and Jordan Lund. Jeffrey Jones remains as one hell of a class act all by himself, no hyperbole necessary.

Photo (above) by Ed Krieger:  Jordan Lund, Megan Gallager, Noah James, Ken Lerner, Jack Stehlin, and Jeffrey Jones.

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