Other People's Money


Review by Willard Manus

To see OTHER PEOPLE’S MONEY is to understand why the French call our economic system “savage capitalism.” The ruthlessness and greed of our bankers and businessmen have drawn the attention of such American writers as Theodore Dreiser, Oliver Stone and David Mamet. Now we can add the name of playwright Jerry Sterner to distinguished list.

Sterner, who wrote OTHER PEOPLE’S MONEY when he was working the night-shift for the New York Transit Authority, satirizes corporate raiding in his play, which won an Outer Critics Circle Award when it was first done off-Broadway in 1989 (and then became a Hollywood film starring Gregory Peck and Danny DeVito).

OTHER PEOPLE’S MONEY pits Jorgenson (Kent Minault), the head of New England Wire & Cable, a venerable family business, against Larry “The Liquidator” Garfinkle (Rob Adler), who comes up from New York intending to take the company over in predatory fashion, sell off its assets, and walk away with a bundle of dough. That he will leave behind a shuttered factory and 1200 out of work employees doesn’t bother him in the slightest.

Jorgenson, an old-fashioned businessman with a conscience, tries his best to fight Larry off. He is aided by his comptroller, Coles (Barry Heins), and his longtime assistant, Bea (Amanda Carlin). The latter also has a daughter, Kate (Alexandra Wright), who is a corporate lawyer with the toughness and smarts needed to slug it out with Larry.

Much of OTHER PEOPLE’S MONEY deals with the donnybrook between Larry and Kate, one which sheds light on the mysteries and machinations of corporate raiding: there is lots of talk about poison pills, green mail, and court injunctions. But in the end, Sterner’s play is really about the impact of money–big money–has on human beings and whether they will sell their souls for it. It’s sad but true to say that most of the people (and that includes New England Wire & Cable’s many stockholders) do not come off well in that regard.

Sterner’s brash, polemical, and all-too-relevant play was snappily directed by Oliver Muirhead for the InterAct Theatre Company. The actors are to be highly praised as well.

(Pico Playhouse, 10508 W. Pico Blvd. Call 818-765-8732 or visit brownpapertickets.com)