The Internet Theater Magazine of Reviews, Features, Annotated Listings







Etcetera and
Short Term Listings


NYC Restaurants


New Jersey







Free Updates
A CurtainUp Review
The Invested
The bigger the risk, the bigger the return

If a merchant should give silver to a trading agent and it incurs loss on his journeys, he shall return silver to the merchant in the amount of the capital sum.— The Code of Hammurabi.
The Invested
Christina Haag
(Photo credit: Carol Rosegg)
Justin Cartwright's terrific novel Other People's Money, chronicles the desperate plight of a prestigious old British Bank brought to the brink of collapse by greed-driven investments through a cast of theater and newspaper people as well as bankers and investors. Having read and reviewed that book (my review), I was delighted to learn that another bank story, The Invested, had found its way to the theater.

Mounted as it is in a tiny downtown venue, I didn't expect as sweeping a saga as a stage or film adaptation of Cartwright's novel would call for. Sharyn Rothstein's The Invested, now having a limited run premiere in the tiny 4th Street Theater can best be summed up by borrowing one of John P. Shanley 's recent delightful daily ruminations at Facebook —"Two very provocative words. Yes. And No."

Yes, Rothstein's play is an entertaining and timely take on the once obscure world of Wall Street and its lingo. The plot unfolds through the personal lens of the people caught up in the tensions created when a new CEO is brought on board so the bank can profit from the profitable hedge fund that's part of the package.

No, it's not going to shed any new light on the financial crisis of 2008 that made discussions of hedge funds and triple AAA ratings and their importance all too familiar to ordinary people — people whose jobs and homes continue to be the endangered species of the reckless investments by banks like Rothstein's fictional Metro Bank and their real counterparts.

If Rothstein's Catherine Murdoch, had become a financial journalist instead of Metro Bank's head of Wealth Management, The Invested might be more of a blow-by-blow real life drama, shades of William Cohan's book House of Cards: A Tale of Hubris and Wretched Excess on Wall Street. However, Rothstein is a dramatist and wasn't bent on being a financial seer when she began writing this play. Instead, according to an interview with Jerry Talmer ("A Good Return for Your Investment" in Downtown Express) the play was inspired by seeing some of her classmates at Vassar getting rich by working on Wall Street, but also seeing a flurry of women who had crashed the glass ceiling quitting or being pushed out of their executive jobs.

What we have then is a play that uses the fiasco of the junk fund sales as the canvas on which to have Catherine Murdoch and the bottom rung Metro Bank employees as well as its ruthless CEO and female board member engage in back stabbing ploys for survival. It's a three-fold success: First, because Rothstein has created an attention-holding drama with characters who talk and act like real people, not stick figures spouting a lot of financial gobbledygook. Secondly, The Invested succeeds because Ron Canada and his design team have managed to stage it compellingly, allowing for fluid scene shifts without a lot of fancy scenery. Last, but by no means least, the play boasts a terrific cast.

Christina Haag and Thomas Hildreth do well by the main protagonists and antagonists: She as Catherine Murdoch, the wealth management executive who's been fattening her clients' portfolioss with carefully chosen investments and who's been profiled in several financial magazines; he as the ruthless hot shot Bill Enoch, whose hugely profitable hedge fund has caused the board to bypass Catherine for the CEO slot. Their biting getting-to-know-you meeting that sets the plot in motion defines their characters, as is the case when the other characters become part of the intrigue.

While Catherine could probably get a top job at another bank, she's not a quitter as indicated by her history as a marathon runner. She's not about to step off the ladder she's been climbing at Metro Bank for 15 years. Staying at the top of that ladder and Enoch's promise of the CFO job causes Catherine to abandon the fiduciary motto of The Code of Hammurabi (see the quote at the top of this review) that has served as her model when advising her clients — at least long enough to sell Enoch's junk fund to her oldest client, Sid Simon (a show stealing performance by Bill Cwikowski). But her innate decency makes her determined to not just save her job but force the bank to stop supporting Enoch's shoddy ethics.

Three other characters are stand-ins for the generally each-man-for-himself Metro Bank population and contribute mightily to the pleasure of watching things become increasingly hostile and jittery. At the top tier level, there's Catherine's fair weather champion on the board, Jane Griffin (played with flamboyant flair by Judith Hawking). There's also Catherine's new assistant (the delightful Turna Mete as the smart, loyal but still naive Ohio to Big Apple transplant) and Henry Hovey (Michael Daniel Anderson), the seemingly harmless, somewhat dopey compulsive joke teller who turns out to be a smarmy, self-serving survivor.

Though Enoch is clearly the villain of the piece, that doesn't automatically make Catherine its heroine. Ultimately, the only really good guy in Rothstein's play is Bill Cwikowski's Sid Simon. He's the dream come true dad, granddad -- and, yes, client- Admirable or not, the actors and the smart script make everyone fun to watch. And at $18 a ticket, you can afford to watch them even if your portfolio has taken a beating. Share
The Invested
World-Premiere by Sharyn Rothstein
Directed by Ron Canada
Cast: Michael Daniel Anderson (Henry Hovey), Bill Cwikowski (Sid Simon), Christina Haag (Catherine Murdoch), Judith Hawking (Jane Griffin), Thomas Hildreth (Bil Enoch),Turna Mete (Madeline Lindsey).
Scenic design: Lauren Helpern
Lighting: Traci Klainer Poliment
Costumes: Emily DeAngelis
Composer/Sound Designer: Toby Jaguar Algya Projections: Pamela Traynor
Stage Manager: Sarah Nochenson
Running Time: Approx. 2 hours, including one intermission
th Street Theatre 83 East 4th Street)
From 9/12/11; closing 9/24/11
Mondays through Saturdays at 7:30 pm (with added 3:00 pm matinees on Friday, September 16, Sunday, September 18 and Saturday, September 24), and no performances on Thursday, September 15 or Tuesday, Tickets are $18.
Reviewed by Elyse Sommer on September 16th
Highlight one of the responses below and click "copy" or"CTRL+C"
  • I agree with the review of The Invested
  • I disagree with the review of The Invested
  • The review made me eager to see The Invested
Click on the address link E-mail:
Paste the highlighted text into the subject line (CTRL+ V):

Feel free to add detailed comments in the body of the email. . .also the names and emails of any friends to whom you'd like us to forward a copy of this review.

Visit Curtainup's Blog Annex
For a feed to reviews and features as they are posted add to your reader
Curtainup at Facebook . . . Curtainup at Twitter
Subscribe to our FREE email updates: E-mail:
put SUBSCRIBE CURTAINUP EMAIL UPDATE in the subject line and your full name and email address in the body of the message. If you can spare a minute, tell us how you came to CurtainUp and from what part of the country.
Book Of Mormon MP4 Book of Mormon -CD
Our review of the show

Slings & Arrows  cover of  new Blu-Ray cover
Slings & Arrows-the complete set

You don't have to be a Shakespeare aficionado to love all 21 episodes of this hilarious and moving Canadian TV series about a fictional Shakespeare Company


©Copyright 2011, Elyse Sommer.
Information from this site may not be reproduced in print or online without specific permission from