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Montpellier, France
Writer, actor, artist, teacher, exploring the world and its levels in fiction, poetry, memoir, photography, fine arts.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Mad Men meets Looney Tunes in Sandbox Radio's "63 Trillion"

Sandbox Radio's first full-length stage production, "63 Trillion," directed by comedy master Richard Ziman, plays for laughs at West of Lenin in Fremont through November 19. John Bunzel's fiendish script affords a fly-on-the-wall view of the kind of corporate boardroom where failed CEOs reap golden parachutes; financial behemoths gobble one another; wealth disappears into suit pockets while 401K's drop into the red.

In the intimate setting of West of Lenin, here arranged in facing tiers of seats along the length of a well-fitted corporate boardroom, a premier acting team makes a bitingly wicked clown-show from the sleaze, greed, and utter amorality of peak capitalism.
Jason Marr being schooled (or fooled) by Charles Leggett
Photo courtesy of Sandbox Radio

Richard Ziman, who also directed MAP Theater's hyper-fun "Greensward" at 12th Ave Arts this summer (reviewed below), has a knack for snappy physical humor and timing; who knew an office chair could be such a riot? or a stapler so viscerally gladdening?

The show's effervescence owes as much to its brisk pace and superb acting as to the wit of the script, which careens from raunchy one-liners ("sooner or later every asshole gets a licking") to social satire ("if it was easy to get rid of people we care about, we'd do it all the time.") The action drives along at near-cartoon velocity -- Mad Men meets Looney Tunes.
David Pichette as Dick; Charles Leggett as Kenny
Photo courtesy of Sandbox Radio

It's a joy to sit within spitting distance of Seattle stage luminaries such as David Pichette, Terry Edward Moore, Charles Leggett, and more fine actors as they zing their way through the clever script. The six male, one female cast (a pretty accurate slice of corporate America) step into memorable characters, starting with hapless Tom (Terry Edward Moore), bullied and overrun by a breezily ruthless Frank (David Gehrman); then Kenny (Charles Leggett), who bobs around the stage wreaking havoc like a nearly-unstrung marionette, and, at the top of the food chain of sharks and prey, Dick (David Pichette in a dream role) -- cool as a cucumber, possibly deranged, the epitome of eccentric, one-step-ahead-of-the-pack billionaire.

Peter Jacobs delivers a great performance as Peter Black, a duped investor who seems always seconds away from heart attack; Amontaine Aurore plays a subdued, but steel edged, stiletto-heeled corporate lawyer, shafting everyone in sight. Dick eventually teams up with the newest member of the team, Jonah (entirely entertaining Jason Marr) to fashion a satisfying climactic comeuppance on the rest of the pack of jackals.
Amontaine Aurore and David Gehrman
Photo courtesy of Sandbox Radio

"63 Trillion," first produced at the New American Theater in Los Angeles, plays for laughs but hits some real nerves. Its general looniness only marginally surpasses the ugly reality one imagines. Whoever the hedge-fund bandits are that drive the American economy into a ditch over and over as they careen down the high-speed lanes of our capitalist economy, their portrayal as sleazy, self-interested schmucks is feel-good fun; their ruin, and the ensuing redistribution of wealth, is every leftie idealist's dream.

The fact that Sandbox offers a flexible ticket price policy should make it easy for anyone to catch this great show before it closes November 19th. As your retirement savings, bank account or home value approach the next impending collapse, you can enjoy some cheap Schadenfreude and high-value entertainment at one of those precious little Seattle theaters quietly fomenting revolution and crying out to be heard. Go see it!

"63 Trillion"

by John Bunzel
Directed by Richard Ziman

Sandbox Radio, in association with Mud Bay Partners
at West of Lenin, 203 N. 36th St., Seattle, 98103

Running October 20 - November 19 Thur-Sat @7:30pm and Sun @2pm