Sandbox Radio’s ’63 Trillion’ a clever, if hammy, spoof of high-finance trickery – Seattle Times

“63 Trillion” is a play about people it’s almost too easy to hate: overprivileged, bigoted, underhanded high-finance guys who treat other people’s hard-earned savings like their own personal piggy banks.

Crude and profane, the backbiting “personal wealth” managers in John Bunzel’s broad satire give some seasoned Seattle actors a chance to go for the smarmy gusto. Their ruthless hucksters wheel and deal like David Mamet’s salesmen in “Glengarry Glen Ross,” but wear more expensive suits.

What actor wouldn’t enjoy munching on a villain like the fatuous creep Kenny (Charles Leggett), whose alpha-dog antics go way beyond schoolyard bullying? Or Frank (David Gehrman), a slimy blowhard more concerned with his golf swing and his dog’s behavior than the blind mailroom clerk he went ballistic on? (The attack winds up on YouTube, naturally.)


“63 Trillion”

By John Bunzel. Through Nov. 19 at West of Lenin, 203 N. 36th St., Seattle; $15-$30 (800-838-3006 or

This spoof of financial chicanery is clever and punchy, but tells us nothing we don’t already suspect. And the local premiere of “63 Trillion,” a Sandbox Radio production directed by Richard Ziman at West of Lenin, is often funny — but also hammy as a blue-ribbon misogynist pig.

On the morning of a future economic meltdown, in the upscale office of a money-management firm, the portfolio managers at first ignore the cratering stock-market numbers. They’re too busy one-upping and trashing each other.

But lowly assistant Jonah (Jason Marr) keeps tabs on the global repercussions of the market decline (China’s entire economy is in free fall), and other ominous developments. And while wincing at the sleazy tactics his bosses use to lasso a new client (Peter Jacobs) into parking millions with them at the worst time, Jonah does their bidding.

Eventually it dawns on all the company’s men, including the slightly less corruptible but still contemptible Tom (Terry Edward Moore), that a financial Armageddon is at hand. Then it’s every shark for himself. That includes unruffled Dick (David Pichette), a financial guru whose eccentricity is exceeded only by his diabolical genius.

Ziman and company insert slapstick shtick as the play’s crosses and double-crosses pile on. There’s an outrageous physical altercation, and an episode of heavy vomiting in a wastebasket. (I’ll spare you the icky details.)

The worst of these guys do get their comeuppance, partly at the hands of an unflappable legal hand, Nancy (Amontaine Aurore). Nancy doesn’t flinch at the blatant sexism beamed her way; she’s obviously used to it. Initially, the portfolio managers fail to believe that there even are any female corporate lawyers (let alone black ones).

Gehrman overdoes a single note of obtuse obnoxiousness. And Leggett crosses the line too often between clowning and just being gross. In Act 2, Aurore’s tart asides and quiet disgust are very refreshing. So is Pichette’s calm bemusement. With a naughty twinkle in his eye, he nearly swipes the show.

Marr also underplays smartly, as the lackey underestimated by his bosses. Will the meek ultimately inherit the spoils? That’s a predictable twist in this sort of eat-the-rich farce, but it can still be a satisfying one.

Sandbox Radio’s ’63 Trillion’ a clever, if hammy, spoof of high-finance trickery – Seattle Times}

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