New in 2017 Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Ayad Akhtar returns to Broadway with a new play about a self-professed investment genius who touches off a financial civil war.
From the producers: It’s 1985, hailed as "America's Alchemist," Robert Merkin's proclamation that "debt is an asset" has propelled him to dizzying heights. Zealously promoting his belief in the near-sacred infallibility of markets, he is trying to re-shape the world. "Junk" is the story of Merkin's assault on American capitalism's holy of holies, the “deal of the decade,” his attempt to takeover an iconic American manufacturing company and, in the process, to change all the rules. What Merkin sets in motion is nothing less than a financial civil war, pitting magnates against workers, lawyers against journalists, and ultimately, pitting everyone against themselves.
Author Ayad Akhtar returns to Lincoln Center Theater, where his plays "Disgraced" and "The Who & the What" were first produced. Akhtar won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for "Disgraced" and received a Tony Award nomination for Best Play for its subsequent Broadway production. "Junk" premiered in 2016 at California's La Jolla Playhouse.
Tony nominee Steven Pasquale ("The Bridges of Madison County," "The Robber Bridegroom") stars as investment banker Robert Merkin. Tony winner Doug Hughes ("Doubt") directs.
What's Lincoln Center Theater? One of the largest and most prominent non-profit theaters in the city, LCT has three state-of-the-art venues at Lincoln Center, and occasionally produces shows in the theater district proper. On rare occasions the fare is controversial, but as a matter of course, it's the best-regarded theatrical producing organization in the city. The company's LTC3 initiative is devoted to producing the work of new artists and building new audiences. More here.
"Junk" makes the world of 1980s finance utterly riveting, despite a relatively predictable plot. We're meant to feel complicated about these characters and each one's morality...But despite Akhtar's attempts to complicate our feelings, it's difficult not to see these already rich people as the bad guys. Still, it's an enthralling production. And despite each character's path seeming inevitable, their choices - or lack thereof - will stick with you long after the final bow.
Directed by Hughes with a solid cast and a tireless foot on the accelerator...Akhtar is a perceptive writer with an ear for pithy dialogue, so he keeps it engrossing. [It] isn't lacking in food for thought, but as drama it's a little dry and unrelentingly talky to sustain a two-hour-20-minute running time. The writing is brutal, clever, often witty, and the production sharp as a tack. But many will be left wondering if they really needed this dispiriting recap of the shift toward making money off money while building nothing but debt.