News, Scandal And Politics: Theatre At Its Most Powerful

Ben Miles, Adam Godley and Simon Russell Beale in The Lehman Trilogy at the National Theatre Mark Douet

Oscar Wilde opined how life imitates art in his 1889 essay The Decay of Lying, a phrase now quoted constantly. However, it only takes a quick scan of the titles and summaries of what’s playing across the West End in London to see how these days, art is also consistently reflecting real life and the world around us.

Directed by Sam Mendes, The Lehman Trilogy (until October 20) at the National practically belies explanation. A masterclass in family drama, this three-plus-hour production tells the story of the financial family who changed the course of history. As the name suggests, this piece of new writing by Stefano Massini adapted for the stage by Ben Power begins in 1844 when the first Lehman Brother arrived in America from Bavaria, primed to steer a new life for himself and his two brothers. This is the human tale behind this behemoth company, which 163 years after its humble beginnings as a dry-goods store triggered the worst financial crisis in history. Beautifully performed by Simon Russell Beale, Adam Godley and Ben Miles who play the three Lehman Brothers, as well as their sons and grandsons, not to mention the odd wife and girlfriend, convey this family’s story while simultaneously reflecting on the overall world of American capitalism as we know it.

Simon Russell Beale, Adam Godley and Ben Miles in The Lehman Trilogy at the National Theatre Mark Douet

Nina Raine’s latest play Consent (until August 11) began with a sold-out run at the National Theatre before transferring to the West End. A powerful production that triggers some essential but chafing questions,…

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