Steel Beam's 'Dry Powder' explores the world of high finance

 
By Jamie Greco
Daily Herald correspondent
Updated 1/9/2018 3:55 PM
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  • Steel Beam Theatre will present the Midwest debut of Sarah Burgess' "Dry Powder," a fast-paced drama/comedy about the world of high finance. The play runs through Feb. 4 at Steel Beam Theatre in St. Charles. Cast members include, from left, Justin Schaller, Jennifer Reeves-Wilson and John Westby. Seated is Richard Isemonger.

    Steel Beam Theatre will present the Midwest debut of Sarah Burgess' "Dry Powder," a fast-paced drama/comedy about the world of high finance. The play runs through Feb. 4 at Steel Beam Theatre in St. Charles. Cast members include, from left, Justin Schaller, Jennifer Reeves-Wilson and John Westby. Seated is Richard Isemonger. Courtesy of Steel Beam Theatre

  • Steel Beam Theatre will present the Midwest debut of Sarah Burgess' "Dry Powder," a fast-paced drama/comedy about the world of high finance. The play runs through Feb. 4 at Steel Beam Theatre in St. Charles. Cast members include, from left, Justin Schaller, John Westby, and Jennifer Reeves-Wilson.

    Steel Beam Theatre will present the Midwest debut of Sarah Burgess' "Dry Powder," a fast-paced drama/comedy about the world of high finance. The play runs through Feb. 4 at Steel Beam Theatre in St. Charles. Cast members include, from left, Justin Schaller, John Westby, and Jennifer Reeves-Wilson. Courtesy of Steel Beam Theatre

Described as a "lacerating view of private equity traders," Steel Beam Theatre's production of "Dry Powder" promises to take audiences through the anatomy of a deal that will change people's lives.

The show opens Friday, Jan. 12, and runs through Feb. 4 at the theater, 111 W. Main St., St. Charles. Tickets are $22-$28.

Director Sean Hargadon realizes that the premise might not inspire folks to brave the elements to see something that could be above their heads or just plain dry.

"It's a play about a private equity firm and when you say that, people will say, 'Wow. Sounds really exciting,'" he said with a laugh. "But the thing about this play is the script is really cool. The audience gets dropped into a world of high finance."

That sense of disorientation is purposeful, said Hargadon of Elgin.

"The playwright (Sarah Burgess) said she wants the audience to be dropped inside of this rabbit hole in 10 minutes so, you're like 'what's going on?'"

"The dialogue is sharp and concise and it moves really quickly," said Batavia resident Jennifer Wilson, who plays Jenny in the play. "There's no time to get bored."

"(The script) is literate and the language pops, kind of like they're in a ring trying to get out," Hargadon said. "It's also a comedy; it has a sense of humor about itself. It's a dark comedy."

The play centers on a company called the Landmark Luggage Company and how its fate falls into the hands of a private equity company. Jeff and Jenny have different ideas about how to move forward with a company that's lost its way.

"Jeff goes to his boss and says, 'I have a plan. We can regrow this company, keep jobs in America, and redevelop it.' Jenny says she has a better plan: 'We can make more money if we liquidate it,'" Hargadon explained.

It's that disagreement that sparks the play's trajectory.

"The characters are visceral; they're all fighting for something and they're all going against each other," Wilson said. "There's just this really great back-and-forth."

With that war of words as a starting point, the company hopes audience members will choose sides based on whose mindset speaks to them.

"Once you get past that, you start to rally around your party: who you want to win or come out on top," Hargadon said. "You will find some people real annoying but, there's a wonderful thing near the end that makes you reevaluate the whole thing."

"Who is really the bad guy or who's the antagonist and protagonist? It creates a lot of questions and fun things to think about," said Wilson, who hopes the questions will stick with the audience past the dropped curtain. "It triggers some questions about capitalism and how we want to do business and how do we view business? Should it be cutthroat and do whatever you want? Should there be regulations? It speaks to the questions of what kind of country do we want, what kind of society do we want?"

"The references today are still very relevant like big business and how they manage the funds," Hargadon said "It's little like a whodunit but (instead) it's a 'who's-gonna-win.' It keeps the audience on edge. It's really short, about 90 minutes."

Wilson suggests audience members take their questions and head to the many restaurants and taverns in the St. Charles area.

"There are tons of great spots to drink and have a nice meal before or after. The show is so engaging and rapid, that by the time it's over, you've gotten all this information, you've seen these struggles, you want to go out and talk about it." Wilson said.

"So, instead of sitting at home, falling into that winter doze where there's nothing to do, get up. It's worth it to go out at night and see something that's relevant to everybody. It affects our lives and our jobs," Wilson added. "And get some fresh air."

Other cast members include Justin Schaller of Elgin, Richard Isemonger of Minooka and John Westby of Winfield. For details, call (630) 587-8521.

"Dry Powder"

When: 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays, Jan. 12-Feb. 4

Where: Steel Beam Theatre, 111 W. Main St., St. Charles

Details: A Midwest premiere, this view into the world of private equity traders takes you through the anatomy of a deal that will change people's lives. With biting wit and shrewd insight, this play pulls back the veil on the world of high finance and what it takes to arrive at the bottom line. This play debuted in New York City in 2016 to acclaim for Sarah Burgess.

Tickets: $22-28; (630) 587-8521 or www.steelbeamtheatre.com

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