DRY POWDER by Backyard Renaissance and streaming through May 2nd is a fast-paced and cutting play about a private equity firm, acquiring a luggage company – it’s not as dry as it may sound and offers a few fireworks along the way.
Written by Sarah Burgess, DRY POWDER takes a look at a predatory private equity company that is so busy chasing ways to increase profit percentage that it lets human interest slide. The term “dry powder” refers to capital that can immediately be invested into a project.
It opens with Rick (Javier Guerrero), the leader at KMM Capital Management trying to manage some protests that have sprung up and are impacted the companies perception around the world. Shortly after the company acquired and forced a national grocery chain to lay off a majority of their workers, he had a very public, million-dollar engagement party, including a live elephant. “It was only one elephant!”, he grumbles in exasperation. It’s not a good look, it’s a publicity nightmare, and he’s looking for something positive to help distract from it.
Rick has two founding members, Jenny (Jessica John) and Seth (Carter Piggee) who approach the world and this problem very differently. Seth suggests a deal he’s negotiated to invest in an American small business that makes luggage. They need the money, it keeps jobs in America and can help soften this current crisis.
Jenny, who cares not at all about what people think when profits can be made, starts to wonder when she “Started working in PR?” She instead offers an option that increases profits but guts the company out of the country and leaves most of its employees out of luck.
While Rick mulls over the options, Seth is working with the luggage company CEO, Jeff (James Hancock III) who wants the deal to go through but wants some assurance his company and his employees won’t be gutted if it does.
The cast is strong and offers dynamic performances, and makes the characters, who are all various degrees of terrible, as compelling as they can.
Guerrero has a very natural, casual demeanor, though one who is annoyed at the inconveniences all of this has caused him. His Rick just as casually talks about his charity in Bali as when he delivers threats to those who may derail the deal, and disregards any human cost involved in his actions.
Piggee’s Seth is the only real sense of warmth in the entire play, as his plans have a more sympathetic bend towards the company into which they are investing. He is smart, and charming, which makes him the perfect salesman for prospective companies looking for investors.
John’s Jenny is a shark; from her streamlined and severe outfits to the points of her stilettos, she is a predator without regard or empathy for anything that doesn’t turn a profit. She’s so glass sharp that she needs the softness of Guerrero’s Rick and Piggee’s Seth to make it believable that this office could function without employees running away in terror.
The banter between Piggee and John’s are some of the strongest and most entertaining scenes, as their competitiveness leads them to bicker over things from vacations to past graduate school scores.
There are no heroes in this story, and even Hancock’s performance as the luggage CEO shows that even those you think might be a nice guy may not be all that they seem.
Directed by Francis Gercke the play moves as quickly as their dialogue. It keeps the pressure up as the deadline for the deal gets closer. Filmed by Cinematographer Jonah Gercke, with editing by Rachel Eubanks, the show benefits from creative angle shots, and varying perspectives- giving the viewer a skewed perspective of reality that matches the tone of the show.
The set by Tony Cucuzzella, with light by Joel Britt, sound design by Matt Lescault-Wood, and costumes by Ross Stewart all work together to complete the look and feel of the show, and they all transfer well into film.
Since the only thing explored that’s truly at stake is a percentage point of profit for people who remain unscathed from the destruction they cause, the ending can feel a bit anticlimactic. The ending feels in line with Patrick Bateman in “American Psycho” or Gordon Gekko’s “Wall Street.”
“Greed, for the lack of a better word, is good.”
DRY POWDER streams on demand (once you pick a particular date), Thursdays-Sunday, from April 23 to May 2, through backyardrenaissance.com
Directed by Francis Gercke
Filmed by Jonah Gercke
Edited by Rachel Eubanks
Lighting Design by Joel Britt
Set Design and Properties by Tony Cucuzzella
Sound Design by Matt Lescault-Wood
Costume Design by Ross Stewart
Production Management by Anna Younce
STREAMING ON DEMAND through May 2
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