‘The Lehman Trilogy’ West End review – Imaginative cinematic epic chronicles a centenary of capitalism

Skyfall‘s Sam Mendes directs a poetic production rich with acting talent – ★★★★½

In hindsight, my review of The Lehman Trilogy during its National Theatre run seems rather disingenuous. A mistake with timings meant I missed the first half an hour of the performance – a tragedy when every minute of this three-hour show is worth savouring.

It opens with Henry Lehman’s (Simon Russell Beale) first perceptions of America – a ‘music box’, he calls it. Arriving in the States from Bavaria with his brothers in tow, Stefano Massini’s play – adapted by Ben Power – charts the rise of the Lehman Brothers Bank before its bankruptcy in 2008.

One of the production’s clever motifs can be found in Es Devlin’s set – a twisting office space turning to the tune of pianist Candida Caldicot’s melodies like a music box of its own. The world revolves around the Lehman brothers, and then, over three acts – and as one character notes – we see the end of it.

Along the way, we’re introduced to countless other characters: generations of the Lehman family, their lovers and fellow businessmen. Each character has their own characteristic, and each actor excels in the numerous unique roles. Russell Beale is hilarious as the assertive Phillip Lehman, The Crown‘s Ben Miles is captivating as Emmanuel Lehman with his prophetic dreams, and Suits‘ Adam Godley is witty as Mayer ‘The Potato’ Lehman.

At one point, Phillip is asked about ingredients – money being his main one. If we look at this play as a whole, meticulous direction, phenomenal performances and a mesmerising original score combine to make the perfect recipe for theatrical success. Trust me, you can bank on The Lehman Trilogy being an incredible night out at the theatre.

The Lehman Trilogy is now playing at the Piccadilly Theatre until 31 August. A NT Live broadcast of the production will be streamed to cinemas on 25 July.

Production Images: Mark Douet.

Disclaimer: I was invited to watch The Lehman Trilogy for free in exchange for a review of the performance as a member of the press. While I was asked to mention the NT Live broadcast, I did not receive payment for this review and all opinions stated are honest and my own.


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