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Theatre Review: "Other People's Money" is a Treat

“Other People’s Money” at New Edgecliff through April 26 is every bit the treat I was expecting it to be – an easy prediction when you bring together a good script, a good director (Greg Procaccino) and a good ensemble cast. 
 
Find your way to the Aronoff’s small studio Fifth Third Bank Theater (entrance on Main). You’ll be happy with your discovery.
 
I feared “Money” was prescient when it debuted a quarter-century ago and I’m sorry to say I was right. It’s a serious comedy – and a romantic comedy at that! -- about how Wall Street does business. Now it’s soulless on steroids.
 
Larry the Liquidator (Mike Dennis) makes his living on Wall Street finding small businesses ripe for the plucking. You buy up stock, move in and take over, pillage them, take your handy profit and move on.
 
One such company is New England Wire and Cable.
 
What’s wonderful about Jerry Sterner’s pretty terrific comedy is that it’s always unexpected and keeps the audience playfully off-balance.
 
You want to like Jorgy (Robert Allen) who cares about his 1,200 employees and the tiny Rhode Island town where his factory is – but he’s also naïve and pig-headed and you want to smack him because he won’t consider possible exit strategies. He’s his own worst enemy.
 
You want to not like Larry. He’s an unashamed Neanderthal and an unabashed shark. He’s also a riot. 
 
Allen and Dennis nail their characters – who have diametrically opposing views and refuse to fit into the proper, stereotyped boxes. 
 
Jorgy talks romantically of a resurgence when America starts re-building its infrastructure (25 years later and we’re still waiting); but he’s not a particularly nice guy, stringing along Bea (Mindy Seibert), his adoring secretary of 30 years, and blowing off the hard-working manager (Mike King) whose diversification moves have kept the business in business.
 
Larry unsparingly talks reality: it’s obsolescence for all those companies that cling to the past. Don’t blame him for their choices. Why is he a winner? He knows how to adapt to the business environment. And he uses other people’s money. 
 
Larry isn’t sentimental but he is a romantic. 
 
Procaccino has pulled together a first-rate non-Equity ensemble who inhabit the dimensions and flaws that make their characters human and keeps the energy high, the focus sharp and the pace quick.
 
It turns out Bea has a leggy daughter, Kate (Elizabeth Chin Molloy) who’s smart as a whip and likes the game as much as Larry. Larry knows his soul mate when he sees her and buoyantly pursues her even as they work their strategies on opposing sides.
 
The action bounces back and forth between the run-down New England Wire and Cable headquarters and Larry’s posher digs high above Manhattan. Set designer Melissa Bennett-Murphy does a nice job defining both locations in the intimate playing space. 
 
“Other People’s Money” is funny and thoughtful and satisfying. And just to keep things fresh, a quick coda has been added to remind us what’s been happening since. Yup, we never learn.
 
“Other People’s Money,” 7:30 p.m. through April 26, Fifth Third Bank Theater, Aronoff Center for the Arts, Seventh and Main, Downtown. 513-621-2787.
 
Written by Jackie Demaline, RCN contributor
 
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