When I first saw “Other People’s Money” Off-Broadway in the 80’s it was just becoming mainstream to dislike the “greed is good” mentality overtaking Wall Street and spilling onto Main Street. We were talking anew about robber barons in ways we hadn’t since the time of Andrew Carnegie. Words like “poison pill” and “greenmail” were making their way into our lexicon, or at least those of us who waded through the business pages of newspapers and magazines.
Today, after the Great Recession brought on by things we came to know called “credit default swaps” and the like, it might strike you too that the greedy Garfinkle character whom we meet in “Other People’s Money” and are supposed to loathe is actually a bit of a quaint anachronism. Granted, he’d fit right in with today’s hedge fund mavens, but at least he had that old-fashioned notion of looking at company balance sheets.
Garfinkle played by Ben Werling in perfect pitch is happy to be known as “Larry the Liquidator”. He delights in reminding those around him that he is unattractive in all senses. When he talks so rudely to the good-natured staff of the New England company in his gun sights—CEO Andrew Jorgenson played by Doug McDade, Bea Sullivan played by Linda Reiter and company president William Coles played by Joseph Wiens—it’s not a moment too soon for us to think it’s time to throw that bastard out of the office.
Larry Garfinkle doesn’t care about things like that or anything except winning.
Oh no—say it ain’t so! Don’t tell me that this S.O.B. actually wins and even gets the girl in the end?
Well if you’ve seen the play or the movie you KNOW how it all turns out, as I did, but don’t let that deter you from experiencing this excellent script skillfully directed by Dennis Zacek and a stellar cast. This is a masterful rendition of a script that goes right to the heart of how capitalism is not about how good guys win in the end. Then again, it’s not saying bad guys necessarily win either.
You go to this play thinking in black and white and come out thinking in shades of gray—to your great surprise. No, you won’t switch from MSNBC to Fox News, but you will think again, and isn’t that what theater should do?
It’s different seeing the play today when we KNOW the manufacturing base in the US is devastated. Thank you Shattered Globe Theatre for dusting off a manuscript like this in the year when Detroit went officially bankrupt. Thank you too for bringing such a high caliber of acting talent to help tell the tale.
A special call out is needed for the simple set of this play designed by Andrew Hildner, which juxtaposes the rundown factory in New England to the no-expense spared surrounds of “Larry the Liquidator”. This simple set enables the actors to move back and forth quickly and all action to move at the fast pace that the script merits.
It runs over two hours with an intermission. It feels like ten minutes.
September 5 – October 19, 2013
Shattered Globe Theater at Theater Wit
1229 West Belmont, Chicago
Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM
Sundays at 3 PM
Visit the box office in person or visit
Or call 773 975 8150
Photos by Emily Schwartz