WPPB

"Junk," Reviewed by David Richardson, Theatre Critic

Nov 13, 2017

"Junk." Not a pretty name. This Broadway show is all about the financial disasters that went on in the 1980’s and opened at the Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Center the other night. If you have an interest in that era of Wall Street malfeasance, "Junk" is a terrific play. I was there and in fact was part of the action but unless you cared about how Wall Street operated back then you are going to be lost watching the ramblings and activities going on up on the Beaumont stage which is bare except for a few lines on the floor. What I’m trying to say is that this is a piece of history, and a bad piece at that, and mainly not a play, that will entertain you.

 

The story concerns the takeover of a public company named Everton Steel by using a new kind of financing called Junk bonds which back then was about as scary as any investment plan could get. All the performers portraying such notable financial gurus as Ivan Boesky, Michael Milken and any number of predators are excellent. As you may have guessed insider trading, was part of all the shenanigans but the real action involved Hostile takeovers. Close your eyes and remember such corporations as RJR Nabisco and what happened to them.

 

The play runs over 2 ½ hours and actually could have been even longer to cover the subject. Most people, however, if the subject matter is of no interest, will head for the doors at intermission. I did not!

 

It is impossible to single out any of the 25 odd members of the cast but Rick Holmes, the company president and Steven Pasquale (who you may know from the OJ Simpson miniseries) as the crooked financier underwriting the junk bonds, are certainly worth more than just a passing mention. Both do a  terrific job with their tough parts.

 

I had to beg somebody to get in to see this play, and the begging was worth it as I really enjoyed it. I think many of the reviewers had no real idea what the subject matter was all about and this may cause you to skip the show. This drama called "Junk" is not junk at all and you, if the sordid subject interests you, will be very glad you saw it.

 

A piece of advice. If you decide you want to go and buy a ticket, take the time to read the current copy of Lincoln Theater Review which is available just outside the entrance. There is an article by the well-known financial writer Michael Thomas that may put you in the mood. In fact, the whole issue is a must-read.