AISLE SAY San Francisco


by Ayad Akhtar
Directed by Jasson Minadakis
Presented by Marin Theatre Company
Boyer Theatre
397 Miller Ave., Mill Valley, CA / Phone (415) 388-5208

Reviewed by Judy Richter

Being in the wrong place at the wrong time has terrifying results for an American banker in Pakistan.

That's the premise of Ayad Akhtar's "The Invisible Hand," being given its Bay Area premiere by Marin Theatre Company.

The banker, Nick Bright, played by Craig Marker, is kidnapped by an extremist Islamic group and held for $10 million ransom.

Unable to come up with the money from his own resources, his employer or the U.S. government, he proposes raising it by using his financial knowledge.

He works with one of his captors, the potentially violent Bashir (Pomme Koch), and teaches him the ins and outs of financial manipulations like puts, calls and other techniques mysterious to the average investor.

With Nick giving the instructions and Bashir executing them on a laptop, money rolls in. However, they discover that some of their profits are being appropriated by the group's leader, Imam Saleem (Barzin Akhavan).

Directed by Jasson Minadakis, the tension level gradually ramps up. Marker is brilliant as his Nick endures the rigors of captivity and his captors' unpredictability.

Akhavan as Saleem and Koch as Bashir master the deviousness of their characters and the shifts in power.

Completing the cast is Jason Kapoor as the thuggish Dar, the guard and enforcer.

Kat Conley created the claustrophobic cell set with lighting by York Kennedy and costumes by Callie Floor. Sound by Chris Houston includes the ominous hum of drones, barking dogs, street noise and gun battles.

Running about two hours with one intermission, the play tends to be episodic with what come to be predictable blackouts between scenes. Nevertheless, this is a gripping drama that's in tune with the times.

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