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‘Other People’s Money’ a wicked reminder of greed

Master New York takeover artist Lawrence Garfinkle (Ben Werling) has sniffed out troubled Rhode Islcompany New EnglWire   Cable

Master New York takeover artist Lawrence Garfinkle (Ben Werling) has sniffed out a troubled Rhode Island company, New England Wire & Cable, ripe for takeover in "Other People's Money" at the Shattered Globe Theatre at the Wit.

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‘OTHER PEOPLE’S MONEY’

Highly recommended

When: Through Oct. 19

Where: Shattered Globe Theatre at Theater Wit,
1229 W. Belmont

Tickets : $30

Info: (773) 975-8150;
theaterwit.org

Run time: 2 hours and 10 minutes with one intermission

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Updated: October 11, 2013 6:06AM



Compile a list of the most potent plays about the cutthroat nature of capitalism and the American way of doing business and “Death of a Salesman,” “Glengarry Glen Ross” and “Enron” are sure to be at the top.

Too often missing from that list, and far too rarely revived, is “Other People’s Money,” Jerry Sterner’s lip-smackingly good play from 1989 that brilliantly chronicles the monumental changes set in motion during the Reagan years — a time when Wall Street began eating Main Street for breakfast.

Should you have any doubts Sterner’s play (the late writer’s only big hit) deserves a place in the pantheon, Shattered Globe Theater’s production, zestily directed by Dennis Zacek, will set you straight as it hits one bull’s-eye after another.

But first, a trip back in time to the 1980s. American manufacturing was in a serious downward spiral as factories relocated overseas and cheap labor became the name of the game. Corporate raiders arrived in full force, devouring long-established but wobbly companies whole, “restructuring” them, and spitting them out with paper profits but little else.

Meanwhile, financiers and lawyers devised a whole new vocabulary for it all, with white knights, greenmailing and poison pills among the terms for destruction and salvation. Golden parachutes began dropping. Politicians floundered. A few hot-shot women entered what was still an all-male arena. And more often than not, money trumped personal loyalty, morality and the civic good.

Enter master New York takeover artist Lawrence Garfinkle (Ben Werling, in a tour de force performance every bit as shrewd, arrogant and earthily comic as his character). He has sniffed out a troubled Rhode Island firm, New England Wire & Cable, buying up massive amounts of stock and driving up the price of shares. The company’s graying president, Andrew “Jorgy” Jorgenson (Doug McDade), doesn’t see the writing on the wall, nor does his assistant (and longtime “companion”), Bea Sullivan (Linda Reiter). But Jorgy’s veteran manager, Bill Coles (Joseph Wiens) does. And he is determined not to be left out in the cold.

Enter Bea’s daughter, Kate Sullivan (Chicago newcomer Abbey Smith in a starry turn). A hotshot lawyer at a New York brokerage firm she is smart, attractive, fiery and fiercely ambitious. And from the moment she meets the larger-than-life Garfinkle there is heat. She gives as good as she gets from him (almost). And there is a crazy sexual chemistry between them, born of competition and a shared taste for power.

Along the way, everyone reveals their own version of Darwinian self-interest. Quite the fire-breathing lesson in the call of cold cash.

Email: hweiss@suntimes.com

Twitter: @HedyWeissCritic



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