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The Lehman Trilogy review

The Lehman Trilogy review

The Lehman Trilogy

The Lehman Trilogy playing at the Theatre Royal

The Lehman Trilogy
The Lehman brothers’ founders

“On a cold September morning in 1844, a young man from Bavaria stands on a New York dockside dreaming of a new life in the new world.” 

Who could have imagined that Meyer Lehman, a founding figure of the Lehman brothers, bore a striking resemblance to a tuberous crop? Or that Bobby Lehman’s affections were won with the ease of a spring breeze? The startling revelation that these pioneering spirits were tethered to the sombre legacy of slavery, a detail conspicuously absent from the narrative spun in the Lehman Trilogy play, provokes a moment of introspective silence.

Sydney’s premier of the Lehman Trilogy

The Lehman Trilogy
Mayer Lehman centre with Henry to right and Emanuel to left

The premiere of the Lehman Trilogy enveloped the audience in an aura reminiscent of Sydney’s bygone era, a city like most, touched by the shadow of a pandemic. Yet, the attire of the night whispered tales of a post-pandemic world; sneakers tread softly beside the occasional flash of shorts, though a handful donned their finery as if in defiance of the casual trend.

The stage became a portal to a three and a half hour odyssey through the annals of the Lehman Brothers, a financial behemoth doomed to crumble under the weight of the subprime mortgage debacle in 2008. The narrative, however, skirts the edges of this downfall, choosing instead to chart the ascent of a family enterprise to the zenith of global finance.

The beginning of a dynasty

The Lehman Trilogy featuring 2022 Cast, Howard W. Overshown at Ahmanson Theatre LA. © Craig Schwartz
The Lehman Trilogy featuring 2022 Cast, Howard W. Overshown at Ahmanson Theatre LA. © Craig Schwartz

Our journey commences with a janitor, the silent witness to the epochs about to unfold. Henry (Heyum) Lehman, the first of this dynasty, steps onto the shores of New York from Rimpah, Bavaria, his eyes alight with the promise of new beginnings. Montgomery, Alabama, becomes the crucible where he first ventures into commerce, his offerings evolving from garments to the essentials of agrarian life. Yet, it is the ashes of cotton fields that kindle his realisation of credit’s potential, sowing the seeds of the Lehman brothers’ intermediary empire.

The tale unfurls in the third person, punctuated by dialogues that breathe life into the narrative, a testament to the prowess of the trio embodying the Lehman lineage—Henry (Adrian Schiller), Emanuel (Howard Overshown), and Mayer (Aaron Krohn), with Mayer’s comedic genius likening him to a potato.

The Lehman Trilogy
The Lehman Trilogy

As the story migrates from Montgomery to the financial heart of New York, the ephemeral nature of money, as air, is voiced by Emanuel Lehman. The baton of leadership passes to the subsequent generation, introducing a marketer with a cynical view of consumerism, a reflection that stirs a deep-seated unease about our enslavement to material desires.

The narrative does not shy away from the dark chapters of history, as the spectre of Black Thursday, 1927, looms large, a calamity weathered by the Lehmans, yet leaving in its wake the tragic spectacles of stockbrokers and investors succumbing to despair. These roles, along with their spouses, are portrayed with a blend of gravitas and humour by the same actors who bring the Lehman brothers to life.

The capitalist dream

The Lehman Trilogy
The stage offers a rotating glass boardroom

The Lehman Trilogy stands as a monumental ode to the capitalist dream, its narrative enriched by stellar performances and a compelling storyline that captivates for three and a half hours. The stage, with its rotating glass boardroom and backdrop of document boxes, juxtaposed against a panoramic video screen, transitions from the cotton fields of Alabama to the soaring skyline of New York, encapsulating the essence of an era defined by ambition, innovation, and the inescapable shadows of its legacy.

Written by Stefano Massini, adapted by Ben Power and directed by Academy Award®, Tony Award®, and Golden Globe winner, Sam Mendes with set design by Es DevlinThe Lehman Trilogyis an extraordinary feat of storytelling told in three parts on a single evening. 

The Lehman Trilogy
The Lehman Trilogy

Aaron Krohn, Howard W. Overshown and Adrian Schiller are playing the Lehman brothers, and a cast of characters including their sons and grandsons.  They are joined by pianist, Cat Beveridge.

Ravi Aujla is playing the role of Janitor and the understudy role of Emanuel Lehman. Performing the other understudy roles, are Leighton Pugh as Henry Lehman, Simon Victor as Mayer Lehman and Anyssa Neumann as the alternate pianist. 

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