The Lehman Trilogy

Piccadilly Theatre
Denman Street, London

Public Previews: 11 May 2019
Opens: 22 May 2019
Closes: 3 August 2019

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Nearest Tube: Piccadilly Circus

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Theatre seating plan

Show times
Monday at 7.00pm
Tuesday at 7.00pm
Wednesday at 7.00pm
Thursday at 7.00pm
Friday at 7.00pm
Saturday at 1.00pm and 7.00pm
Sunday no shows
Note: Sat 11 May at 7.00pm only

Runs 3 hours and 20 minutes including two intervals

Seat prices
£? to £?
(plus booking fees if applicable)

The Lehman Trilogy

The National Theatre's production of Stefano Massini's play The Lehman Trilogy in London, adapted by Ben Power, and directed by Sam Mendes

On a cold September morning in 1844 a young man from Bavaria stands on a New York dockside. Dreaming of a new life in the new world. He is joined by his two brothers and an American epic begins. 163 years later, in 2008, the firm they establish Ė Lehman Brothers Ė spectacularly collapses into bankruptcy, and triggers the largest financial crisis in history.

The story of a family and a company that changed the world, told in three parts on a single evening with three actors who play the Lehman Brothers, their sons and grandsons.

The cast features Simon Russell Beale as 'Haim 'Henry' Lehman', Adam Godley as 'Mayer Lehman' and Ben Miles as 'Emanuel Lehman' - who are all reprising their roles from the National Theatre run in 2018. Casting subject to change without notice. Directed by Sam Mendes with designs by Es Devlin, costumes by Katrina Lindsay, video by Luke Halls, lighting by Jon Clark, and music and sound by Nick Powell.

PLEASE NOTE: This production features some video effects that may cause dizziness. It also contains moments and themes that some people may find distressing.

When this production was originally seen in repertory at the National Theatre's Lyttelton Theatre - previewed from 4 July 2018, opened on 12 July, and closed on 20 October 2018 - with a cast that featured Simon Russell Beale, Adam Godley and Ben Miles, Henry Hitchings in the London Evening Standard explained how "Sam Mendes's production has a fine sense of rhythm: the deliberately repetitive language suggests the cyclical nature of finance's grand narratives, and we also see philosophies and mannerisms handed down from one generation to the next.... it's absorbingly performed by a cast of just three, attuned to its poetry and humour... they slip in and out of a multitude of roles with impressive dexterity." Michael Billington in the Guardian praised as being "an astonishing evening!... An intimate epic that becomes a masterly study of acting as well as of the intricacies of high finance... The joy of Sam Mendes' impeccable production lies in watching the actors at work as they switch genders and ages to evoke multiple characters... an engrossing evening." Ann Treneman in the Times described it as being "grown-up theatre at its best," adding that "Sam Mendes triumphs with a simple and elegant staging... Simon Russell Beale is outstanding as Henry, a man who prides himself in never being wrong. Ben Miles is the headstrong Emanuel, destined to be at odds with his elder brother. It's left to the third brother, Mayer, played by Adam Godley with fantastic flair, to be the peacemaker." Ian Shuttleworth in the Financial Times highlighted that "this is a staging, and a batch of performances, of intelligence, sensitivity and beauty." Claire Allfree in the Daily Telegraph commented that this is "a lean three-hander in which the hubristic history of American capitalism takes on the deceptive charm of a folk tale... Sam Mendesís somewhat relentlessly monochrome production plays out in a rotating modern glass office, framed by changing black and white footage of America." Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail said that "there is no denying that the staging is ingenious... You will watch with admiration as just three fine actors play out the historical saga... Yet for all this where is the soul? What, other than greed and self-assertion, motivated these Lehmans? And what motivates their ilk in high finance? We are never quite told," concluding that "this is an intellectual evening which leaves the heart relatively unbrushed." Neil Norman in the Daily Express wrote that "there are some good moments... but the story and static production fail to generate excitement or emotion. It is like sitting through a three-hour lecture given by 'amusing' professors."

Simon Russell Beale's London stage credits include the title role in Richard Eyre's production of Ian Kelly's comedy Mr Foote's Other Leg at the Hampstead Theatre 2015 and Haymarket Theatre 2015; the title role in Sam Mendes' revival of Shakespeare's King Lear at the National Theatre's Olivier Theatre in 2014; the role of 'Roote' in Jamie Lloyd's revival of Harold Pinter's The Hothouse at the Trafalgar Studios in 2013; the role of 'Captain Terri Dennis' in Michael Grandage's revival of Peter Nichols' Privates on Parade at the Noel Coward Theatre in 2012; the role of 'Sydney Bruhl' in Matthew Warchus' revival of Ira Levin's comedy thriller Deathtrap at the Noel Coward Theatre in 2010; the role of 'Lopakhin' in Sam Mendes' revival of Anton Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard at the Old Vic Theatre in 2009; the role of 'Leontes', opposite Ethan Hawke as 'Autolycus', in Sam Mendes' revival of Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale at the Old Vic Theatre in 2009; the role of 'Philip' in David Grindley's revival of Christopher Hampton's The Philanthropist at the Donmar Warehouse in 2005; the title role in John Caird's revival of Shakespeare's Macbeth at the Almeida Theatre in 2005; the role of 'George Moore' in David Leveaux's revival of Tom Stoppard's Jumpers at the National Theatre's Lyttelton Theatre in 2003 and Piccadilly Theatre in 2003; and the role of 'Guildenstern' in Matthew Francis' revival of Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead at the National Theatre's Lyttelton Theatre in 1995.

Adam Godley's London theatre credits include the role of 'Raymond' in Terry Johnson's stage production of Barry Morrow's Rain Man at the Apollo Theatre in 2008; the role of 'Victor Prynne' in Howard Davies' revival of Noel Coward's Private Lives at the Noel Coward Theatre in 2001; the role of 'John Worthing' in Christopher Morahan's revival of Oscar Wilde's The Importance Of Being Earnest at the Haymarket Theatre in 1999; the role of 'Fydor' in Anthony Clark's production of Anton Chekhov's The Wood Demon at the Playhouse Theatre in 1997; and the role of 'Eric Birling' in Peter Dews' revival of J B Priestly's An Inspector Calls at the Westminster Theatre in 1987.

Ben Miles' West End theatre credits include the role of 'Thomas Cromwell' in Jeremy Herrin's productions of Mike Poulton's stage adaptations of Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies at the Aldwych Theatre in 2014; the role of 'Robert' in Ian Rickson's revival of Harold Pinter's Betrayal at the Harold Pinter Theatre in 2011; the role of 'Tom' in Matthew Warchus' revival of Alan Ayckbourn's The Norman Conquests (Table Manners, Living Together and Round and Round the Garden) at the Old Vic Theatre in 2008; and the role of 'Henry Bolingbroke' in Trevor Nunn's revival of Shakespeare's Richard II at the Old Vic Theatre in 2005.

"Thereís an exhilarating sense of the march of history, the seemingly unstoppable dynamo of American capitalism, and a subtle reminder that things move in cycles... Donít expect a heady, highoctane financial thriller... The Lehman Trilogy is a very different beast: a leisurely, clever, highly theatrical three-hour meditation on the changing face of business and banking.... Sam Mendesís direction commands admiration with its slightly frosty artistry, while Ben Powerís script, adapted from Stefano Massiniís original, has a beautiful structure, full of internal rhythms and echoes. Itís less a straight indictment of capitalism than an expression of complex unease, with many elements to it ó not least the metamorphosis of the Lehman family from devout and prayerful Jews to secular internationalists."

"This is a dramatised but undramatic history lesson about the foundation and development of the bank, whose collapse triggered the financial crisis of 2008... The characterisation is simplistic. The first-generation brothers are defined as Head (Henry), Arm (Emmanuel) and Potato (Meyer), and their sons are equally crudely contrasted as Risk (Philip) and Responsibility (Herbert). Played by men, the womenís roles inevitably become caricatures. This provides sporadic comedy... After three and a half hours, the dramatic rhythms grow monotonous... Sam Mendesís production over-uses Es Devlinís revolving glass set in a desperate attempt to animate proceedings. Luke Hallsís video designs are vivid and powerful, while Candida Caldicotís near-continuous piano accompaniment has an emotional depth that the dialogue lacks." The Sunday Express

"Want to understand how one of the biggest financial crashes in history happened? This play, about the family behind the banking behemoth Lehman Brothers wonít help you. But if you want a century-spanning human story that encapsulates the rise and fall of the American dream, this three-hour plus epic is well worth your time... Played with finesse, humour and above all, humanity, by Simon Russell Beale, Henry Lehman is brimful of wonder and hope. He sets up a clothing shop in Alabama, is later joined by his brothers and they begin dealing in cotton, inventing a new role in business no one has heard of before. 'We're middlemen,' explains Mayer... It's their outsider status and questioning nature, the play suggests, that allowed the three to see opportunities in America's headlong rush towards modernity that others missed.... itís the acting that makes the evening special. Between them Beale, Ben Miles and Adam Godley not only play the three Lehmans who landed in America, but the women they married, the children they begat and the later Lehmans who turned a business that financed the making of things into a business that merely financed the making of money." The Metro

The Lehman Trilogy in London at the Piccadilly Theatre has public previews from 11 May 2019, opens on 22 May 2019, and closed on 3 August 2019