Front Row Reviews

“Dry Powder” Spotlights Wall Street Power-Brokers

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In the high-stakes private corporate world, “dry powder” is the phrase used for the cash the company has on-hand for swift investment buyouts. Named after gunpowder, the more cash reserves the venture capitalist has on hand, the more quickly the takeover can ignite.

Sarah Burgess gives us a microscopic view of how one of those quick-fire deals unfolds. She wraps us in financial jargon, showing two opposing views of a company takeover. On one hand, there’s a demanding venture capitalist CEO; on the other, we have the sympathetic head of a financially struggling company.

Director Jenny Hollingworth keeps the tension tight and the pace fire-cracker quick.  The audience surrounds the square stage, thanks to creative Set Designer David Yen. He equips the stage with a huge desk and plush winged chairs.

Intimidating Rick (clever Mike Schaeffer) is the CEO of the investment firm he created: KMM Capital Management in New York. His Fortune 500 company laid off thousands of supermarket employees the same day he threw a million-dollar engagement party. The press throws him into the public shark tank, and now he is looking for a way back into everyone’s good graces.

But Managing Director Seth (compassionate Michael Girts) suggests KMM buy Landmark Luggage, a small cash-poor U.S. company that produces luggage in America. Seth likes the CEO, Jeff, and wants to help build the U.S. company. His interest lies more with the people and not just the profits.

It’s a clash between a profit hungry investment giant and a small company that’s going down the tubes.

Stoic Managing Director of Analysis, Jenny (intense Jenny Gillian Eichenberger) disagrees. She is overbearing and mechanical. She believes KMM should buy Landmark and outsource the work—giving the investment firm an all-American look, while shipping the jobs overseas. But that would mean eventually laying off all its American workers. Rick must decide. His reputation is on the line.

Although we have to work through some financial language, the play pulls us into the chess game.

The embattled luggage company’s president, warm-hearted Jeff (clever Mark Bradbury) knows how to play Seth. Jeff struggles with trying to win Seth over to his side—and getting him to leave KMM.

Burgess’ dialogue is crisp, incisive, and spellbinding. No wonder our society has trouble understanding corporate planning. The political maneuvering is hard for any average citizen to decipher.

I enjoyed the play immensely and recommend that you come and see it for its last weekend. Learn how Wall Street really works.

“Dry Powder” by Sarah Burgess, directed by Jenny Hollingworth, at Left Edge Theatre, Santa Rosa, California. Info: – to March 26, 2023.

Cast: Mark Bradbury, Gillian Eichenberger, Michael Girts, and Mike Schaeffer.

Photo: Eric Chazankin