Dry Powder: Final Week at Shaker Bridge Theatre

by Susan B. Apel

So that's how and why those decisions get made, by people in tailored suits and smart dresses who keep the wheels of American capitalism rolling along. Dry Powder, in its final week at Shaker Bridge Theatre in Enfield NH, invites the audience to press their noses to the glass of an office at KMM Capital Management. KMM's President, Rick (David Bonanno) is watching, and egging on, managing directors Seth (Matt Crabtree) and Jenny (Theresa Kloos) as they let fly their competing visions for KMM's purchase of Landmark Luggage. Their heels are dug in and their elbows are sharp, like the angles of the sleek, minimalist chrome and leather office chairs on which they perch, but only occasionally.

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The vocabulary in the opening scene is arcane and a little off-putting. Unless you have an MBA, references to "LPs" and the like may be confusing, but no matter. You'll soon suss out that the initial competition revolves around whether Jenny or Seth can produce the greater profits from the impending deal. And then a crisis hits, and the tensions mount. Rick, somewhat distracted by negative publicity surrounding his recent over-the-top engagement party (one elephant, not two) presides as Jenny and Seth zing each other. It's a dysfunctional family, in which the siblings engage in verbal bloodletting as they vie for the attention of a chilly father.

Paul West

Enter Jeff (Paul West), CEO of Landmark Luggage. He brings his earnest West Coast style (not the hip kind; he's from Sacramento) to KMM's urban Manhattan vibe. Pivotal to this comedy-drama is a relationship he forms with Seth, which is tested more than once throughout the play. To reveal more is to spoil the ending, which does in fact surprise.

The comedy lies in the delivery and the well-crafted dialog of playwright Sarah Burgess, especially between Jenny and Seth, over the ridiculous indices of success, like their GMAT scores. Or Jeff's reverence for his "Delta status." Kloos's Jenny is particularly adept. Watch for her delivery of the line, "I own a complete luggage set." Of course she does.

Amid the laughs are the big ponderables, such as how these decisions are completely removed from any consequences to the human beings who are caught up in them. Think of the recent government shutdown, or this week's Amazon debacle in New York City. Not to mention another question of our time: what is honesty, and why is it often shaved to unrecognizeable thinness?

Dry Powder runs for 90 minutes without intermission. It's fast-paced and absorbing. The writing and acting carry the production on a sparse set with little physical action, as office settings tend toward. Be sure to read the story in the program of how Burgess's play--her first--came to be produced at The Public Theater with an all-star cast.

Tickets are available at www.shakerbridgetheatre.org and by calling 603.448.3750.

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