Let me start this entry by saying that I have seen this show more times that I ever planned to see it. The first time I saw it was when it first opened at the National Theatre of London back in July 2018. I wasn’t planning on seeing it but a friend told me about it and well, I just had to go see it for myself. The production I saw was directed by Sam Mendes, and the only actor from the three actors in the show that I knew of was Adam Godley. 

The show was fantastic. One of the best shows I saw that year and I couldn’t stop talking about it. In fact, once back home, I talked about it so much that my theatre friends and colleagues told me to stop talking about it. I did. But by then, one of my good theatre friends bought tickets to the production that was coming to the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco. This was back in April/May 2022. Unfortunately, the show was canceled for reasons that were never explained. 

Fast forward to spring 2023. I am on sabbatical in Italy for six months and during my birthday week (April 2023) I decided to treat myself to visiting London and see as many plays and musicals as possible. Yes, I saw many plays and musicals, and one of them was, you guessed it, The Lehman Trilogy. 

This time the show was playing in the West End at the Gillian Lynne Theatre. I didn’t even know it was playing. I was just walking around the London’s Theatre District, and viola, there it was. So, I bought me a cheap ticket and decided to see the show. This time I was going to see the play because I wanted to see if the set and all the technical elements from the original production had transferred over. They did. The production starred Nigel Lindsay, Michael Balogun, and Hadley Fraser. They were not the same cast from the national theatre, and the three actors were people I had never heard of. The production was, as expected, as good as the one from the National. 

A year later, in May 2024, The Lehman Trilogy finally made its way to A.C.T. San Francisco. My theatre friend, who already had bough tickets for the one a year before, had tickets and invited me. This time I went with the idea to look at the writing structure of the play. The cast was the same from the Gillian Lynne Production and under Sam Mendes direction. 

I came out of this third viewing talking about two things: The writing and the Directing. The show is called “The Lehman Trilogy,” which is about the three original Lehman brothers and their dependents, and how they founded their companies/bank. The show has three acts, which parallels the three brothers. Many of the lines in the show are broken into phrases or fragments. These phrases or fragments come in groups of three. There are many instances where lines and beats are also written in threes, while words or line motifs are also repeated in threes.

When it comes to the directing, the blocking and movement is also repetitive and circular, and yes, the repetition and the circular motion of the show also comes in threes. Many of the gestures, mannerisms, and poses the three actors execute throughout the show, while playing different characters, are also repetitive. At times, the physical repetition is done immediately and other times, the repetition is done in one act and repeated later in another, mirroring situations or connecting characters’ behavior, the same dramatic action or emotional simile. 

I truly enjoyed watching the show this third time, mainly because I was now looking at the production very objectively, keeping close attention on how the play had been written and how the production had been directed. I cared less about the emotional arc of the characters and concentrated more on the show as a piece of art that needed to be analyzed by someone who continues to learn about writing plays. 

Now that I look back at the excitement I felt when I first saw the show back in 2018, I can say that I couldn’t stop talking about it to my theatre friends and colleagues because the show not only impressed me as a production but I was very much trapped by its writing structure and directing approach without even knowing it. The Lehman Trilogy is an excellent piece of writing, and as a production, the show is a visual and acting feast. 

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