Christina Haag in The Invested
(© Carol Rosegg)
Christina Haag in The Invested
(© Carol Rosegg)
Nowhere in playwright Sharyn Rothstein's bio is there any indication she has a grounding in the kind of Wall Street-finance matters that concern her new play, The Invested, now at the 4th Street Theatre. Nonetheless, she's written a knowing, deliciously mean, and smartly plotted play on the up-to-the-minute subject of high-finance corruption and betrayal.

Catherine Murdoch (Christina Haag) has been making bundles as the wealth management division head at MetroBank for 15 years, but has been bypassed in her silent bid to become the new CEO. Instead, the board of directors' choice is Bill Enoch (Thomas Hildreth), whose hedge fund LAT, has been purchased by the bank.

Suspecting that something's amiss with the impressive annual investment returns LAT Fund boasts -- and simply disliking Enoch's lubricious gray-suit-and-matching-tie bearing from their first meeting -- Catherine finds herself unable to do anything but take the new executive's word about his achievements in the billions and push LAT to her many satisfied customers, represented here by self-made moneybags and plain speaker Sid Simon (Bill Cwikowski).

Still, Catherine hardly shies from a cat-and-mouse game with the new, ceaselessly devious boss. The competition draws in her new and naïve Ohio-expatriated assistant Madeline Lindsey (Turna Mete) as well as wily board-member heiress Jane Griffin (Judith Hawking) and sneaky office joker Henry Hovey (Michael Daniel Anderson). Ultimately, she arms all six characters with metaphorical knives so they can go about enthusiastically stabbing each other in the back.

Indeed, what's so deviously appealing about Rothstein's drama is that the speeches she puts into the mouths of all her characters brim with nasty wit. What they say is believable even as it's shocking -- and more than likely in line with the impressions laypersons have of a dog-eat-dog financial world.

It also helps that The Invested gets a nice production from director Ron Canada, complete with Lauren Helpern's set, featuring three playing areas in which a desk and a computer are prominently featured, and costumes by Emily DeAngelis that show off a keen eye for today's recommended business attire.

Best of all, the cast keeps pace with the script. Haag is a compassionate, yet angry Catherine; Hawking doesn't let pass any opportunity to convey Jane's sexual inclinations; Mete's Madeline transitions well from innocent to nasty; Cwikowski easily illustrates Sid's street smarts; and Anderson is cunning at making Henry's office gags amusingly off-putting. Hildreth sometimes allows himself to be caught acting Enoch's calculated avarice rather that portraying it, but at other times he taps the very right buttons.