The Invisible Hand: Kiln Theatre
- Credit: Mark Douet
The title refers to the self-correcting nature of money markets based on mutual human greed.
But what if the person gaming the system wants to use Capitalism for a different aim?
That's the tension set up by Pakistani-American playwright Ayad Akhtar in a taut hostage drama that sees American banker Nick Bright kidnapped by Islamic terrorists who are bent on helping their community.
Nick's captors have been disenfranchised and radicalised by successive disastrous Western interventions - but Akhtar doesn't shy away from the contribution of local corruption and self interest. Tasked with raising his own ransom, Nick teaches them how to play the markets and the intoxication of amassing large sums cause fissures in the group - setting in train a brutal set of unintended consequences.
A revival of an acclaimed 2016 Kiln show, Indhu Rubasingham's sure footed production roots global economics and politics in a knotty personal drama that is often darkly funny.
Locked in the pressure cooker of Lizzie Clachan's claustrophobic breezeblock holding cell, punctuated by the boom of drone strikes, every character elicits some measure of sympathy. Tony Jayawardena's embittered Imam Saleem tempted by the chance to buy his wife a house; Scott Karim's Bashir, an idealistic British Asian with a growing awareness of where power lies; and Daniel Lapaine's increasingly desperate Nick, no longer insulated from the consequences of his country's foreign policy disasters, who tries to exploit their differences so he can get home.
There are lessons all round about greed, power and politics, but they aren't simple and they aren't trite. 4/5 stars.