Two types of hustler ply their trade on the London stage this week. Bankers and Spivs. Lenny Henry is the super-fly spiv in August Wilson’s drama set in 1980s Pittsburgh. Simon Russell Beale, Adam Godley and Ben Miles are the millionaire bankers in Stefano Massini’s epic about the rise and fall of the Lehman family. Well, Henry’s personality Elmore lives by his wits on the streets within an American dark suburb. Wherever he lays his head wear, that’s his home. For the Lehman brothers, in addition they lived by their wits – first as middlemen for the cotton plantations of Alabama, and in the coping rooms of Wall Road then. Wherever they laid their bets, that was their collateralised debt obligation.
The play was ‘created’ by writer Ella Hickson and sound geniuses Ben and Max Ringham; the theatre reverse-engineered to fit the technology. As this dark, brilliantly unsettling story of paranoia, understanding and out is situated upon lies has, we hear everything Anna hears. Her still left ear is our still left hearing, her right, our right.
It’s live podcast theater and it thrills like no other. In the throes of a noisy party we listen to the threats and reassurances oh so quietly whispered into her ears. Snatches of conversation are tuned into, you get the rustle of a layer as it’s nervously taken off, or the small waver of the exhale mid terrified cigarette. It’s theatrical eavesdropping. I’ve no basic idea the way they do it, because to look at modern, suave Anna (Phoebe Fox) you couldn’t inform that her mind was wired up such as a telecoms mast.
Fox is excellent. She manages to lose the plot well and has such a sharpened extremely, dark edge. Max Bennett (as her husband’s mysterious employer) terrifies in the calmest, gentlest ways seemingly, and director Natalie Abrahami marshals some glorious frights – the person next to me actually jumped in his seat at one point. This taut and brief drama whips through fright, menace and numerous twists very quickly, and plays so much of it through the tiniest of expressions. Everything and you also leave before the sunlight has arranged even.
The strength of the first option could it be is a lot quicker to do. With either strategy you are only going to get a rough approximation of performance as market conditions are quite unpredictable. That’s good enough generally though a lot, because nobody can regularly predict the markets. In 2007 nobody predicted the turmoil of 2008 almost. Fed Chairman Bernake claimed subprime was contained.
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In 2008 almost no one thought “emergency” monetary insurance policies would last a decade. In 2015 almost no one (other than Scott Adams – the author of Dilbert) forecasted the election of Donald Trump, which ushered in a large change to federal income taxes. Even a few of the greatest investors of all time tout how the irrationality of market behavior provides them higher returns.
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