Review Round Up: Dry Powder, Hampstead Theatre

Hayley Atwell stars in this new production of Sarah Burgess’s play exploring the vulnerability and vilification of those in charge of the economy. 

DryPowder_Photo by SWD 1

In the same week his private equity firm forced massive layoffs at a supermarket chain, Rick threw himself a lavish engagement party – which even featured an elephant – setting off a publicity nightmare. However all’s not lost when you’re the titan of high finance – there’s still an abundance of cash in reserve and Seth, one of Rick’s partners, spots an opportunity to salvage the company’s reputation with an investment that’s both sound and PR-friendly.  But Jenny, the third partner, and Seth’s nemesis, has other ideas: she’s not in business to make friends. If there’s money to be made, she’ll do whatever it takes to generate the maximum return, irrespective of what the critics might say…

The Independent: *** ” a slick, gleaming, snappily-acted production”

The Guardian: *** “It’s a demanding play, but one that suggests there is something rotten in the state of contemporary capitalism.”

The Times: **** “This is a smart and sassy American comedy-drama.”

The Telegraph: *** “Burgess never has much to say beyond the notion that people who work in high finance are essentially hollow. Not only does this make for a pretty hollow play, but it’s yet another example of a Hampstead show that feels fundamentally unessential.”

WhatsOnStage: *** “Anna Ledwich’s direction ensures the rhythm and speed of the dialogue stays punchy, and leaves it mainly in the hands of the strong ensemble. But the cast can’t hide the piece’s flaws and it ultimately emerges as an unsatisfying evening.”

The Stage: *** “The play also gets bogged down in its financial speak. It might be authentic, but it’s still a problem when you have to turn to a glossary of terms in a play’s programme notes afterwards to fully understand the title.”

London *** “the play, though it is undeniably gripping to watch, needs some asset-stripping of its own, to make it leaner and cleaner.”

The FT: *** “This is billed as a comedy, but it is almost entirely comedy of cruelty: of bitchery, sledging and downright insult. Without a character or perspective to engage with, we need humour that offers relief rather than enrolling us in the heartlessness.”

Broadway World: **** “Sharply provocative and dangerously funny.”

Hackney Gazette: “most enjoyable is Atwell who milks maximum comedy from Jenny’s empty-souled incomprehension of human weakness.”

British ** “Enjoyable as the cast are, Dry Powder is a bit of a damp squib.”

Time Out: ** “Anna Ledwich’s laugh-focussed direction may possibly sell the play fractionally short. But Burgess is hardly the first to write about this world, and others have done so with infinitely more verve and imagination.”

Evening Standard: ** “While the play’s title hints at potentially incendiary material, there’s a distinct shortage here of explosions or even surprises.”

The Daily Mail: **** “Dry Powder is refreshing and provocative and perfect for the Hampstead’s moneyed clientele.”

Theatre Cat: “It is barkingly funny, played with quartet precision under Anna Ledwich’s direction, and has at its heart not some jejune fury at “fatcats” but a serious observation: it is about the distinction between the warm breath of business – creating objects, services, value – and the icy mathematical chill of those who finance it.”

Dry Powder continues to play at the Hampstead Theatre until the 3rd March. For more information and to book tickets visit:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: