Michael Lew’s new play, Microcrisis, produced by the Ma Yi Theatre Company at HERE Arts Center, is a wild, wickedly funny satire on financial corruption and the dismal state of the American economy. Teeming with drunken dance numbers, transcontinental jet-setting, and the President of The Fed playing squash and sleeping with Washington hotties like Maureen Dowd, this play will keep your head spinning faster than a roulette wheel in Monte Carlo.
The drama begins in Ghana, where Acquah, (William Jackson Harper), addresses the audience about his need for a new cell phone. He finds the solution to his problems in Lydia (Lauren Hines), an enthusiastic 19-year old college student interning at a Citizen Lend – a microcredit outfit in Ghana. Enter Bennett (Alfredo Narciso), a satanic American banker, with a scheme to bundle micro loans into collateral debt obligations and credit-default swaps, thereby orchestrating another financial plot to destroy the world’s economy (and weave a golden parachute that will keep him floating for the rest of his life.)
Director Ralph B. Peña keeps the action airborne, and often, just above his audience’s heads, in a cloud of confusing financial terms and acronyms. CDSs? ABS’s? Never fear, even if you don’t understand what these things are, you will still be captivated by the relentless, energetic performances of every actor on stage. The wacky characters keep on coming – from the Mark Zuckerberg-esque Harvard grad Randy (David Gelles) to the hopeless, duck footed Moody’s credit rater Clare (Jackie Chung).
The set is a nightmarish construction, designed to resemble a room of safety deposit boxes. Miniature set pieces are hidden in the walls, and when they are pulled out, they transport the audience from a hut in Ghana, to a Harvard grad’s messy apartment, to a casino in Monte Carlo. Michael Lew’s international crisis sets no borders.
With a stellar cast, expert directing, and writing that is both humorous, inventive and timely, Microcrisis is the funniest, most politically relevant play I’ve seen this New York season.
Rosie duPont BC ’10