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Hamptons Life

Jan 25, 2011 10:27 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

"Other People's Money" Review

Jan 25, 2011 10:27 AM

“Other People’s Money,” Jerry Sterner’s award-winning, powerhouse off-Broadway 1989 play about the rise of the corporate raider and the role of Wall Street in the future fates of all is currently being given a pounding production at the Southampton Cultural Center.

Mr. Sterner, a businessman both before and during his playwriting career, writes whereof he knows. And what he knows is the stuff of bristling conflict, casual cruelty and the modern-day equivalent of a shoot-out at the O.K. Corral.

For this production, an outstanding cast has been assembled and ignited by director Michael Disher, who has woven together a tightly wound and powerful ensemble that brings to gritty and brittle life a varied group of battlers determined to win a fixed fight.

As Bea Sullivan, the constant and loyal assistant to Andrew Jerenson, the owner and preserver of the Wire and Cable Company, Mary Ellen Roche presents a constant and sympathetic sustainer of an admirable, if doomed, way of life. Kasia Klimiuk, as her daughter, Kate—a remorseless and unforgiving lawyer who fights to the bitter end the efforts to destroy the firm for which her mother has devoted most of her adult life—presents a brittle and ambitious, liberated woman (this is 1989, remember) not averse to wearing suits a couple of sizes too small and skirts a couple of inches shorter than normal to win her battles. Her scenes with corporate raider Lawrence Garfinkle are sharp and telling.

The major and most rewarding roles are given to the men on either side of a cultural showdown.

Terrance Fiore inhabits Andrew Jorgensen, a man who, though a lifelong Republican, admires and quotes Harry Truman, who appeared before the 1,200 employees of the New England Wire and Cable Company and mesmerized and inspired both them and him in a brief but telling address. Mr. Jorgensen cares for his town and his employees and has their undivided loyalty, in contrast to Mr. Garfinkle, who confesses easily that he “concerns himself with the game, not the players.”

In his concluding plea to his stockholders not to sell out to the raiding and destroying Garfinkle, Mr. Fiore shines like a burnished stone, giving the masterful scene a warm and inspiring glow.

The matching address to the stockholders, part of the 15 most gripping moments of the play, are given over to Daniel Becker as Mr. Garfinkle. Mr. Becker’s performance is a treasurable one, revealing yet another, contrasting string on this fine actor’s instrument. To tune into a hateful, destructive individual’s forgiving characteristics and turn him into a borderline sympathetic person is a complex acting challenge and Mr. Becker conveys it as naturally as if he were born with it.

Only one ensemble member seemed to be tagging along on Saturday night. As William Coles, the junior member of the Wire and Cable Company, Seth Hendricks’ performance was a muffled one, possibly brought on by a tiny audience, which, in its pervasive silence, missed many of the abundant comedy lines in “Other People’s Money.” It was easy to see how an actor could be intimidated by this sort of situation and more demonstrative audiences, sure to arrive on the play’s next weekend, should cure this single diminution.

Once again, Michael Disher has brought an important and neglected play to inordinately glowing life and shaped an outstanding group of actors to the outer limits of their considerable talents on the Southampton Cultural Center’s stage. The divided, mood anchoring set, designed by Mr. Disher, is lit with brilliant and isolating precision by Peter Eilenberg. “Other People’s Money” is an entertaining, involving, disturbing and highly revelatory comedy/drama, which is being given a first rate and not to be missed production at the Southampton Cultural Center.

“Other People’s Money” closes this weekend. Remaining performances are at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday night and at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday afternoon through February 6 at the Southampton Cultural Center. Admission is $22, or $20 for seniors at the door on Friday, and $10 for students under 21. For reservations, call 287-4377 or visit scc-arts.org.

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Closing weekend is next weekend, not this weekend.
By splashdown (21), sag harbor on Jan 26, 11 10:50 AM