It's entirely by chance that I ended up seeing the two big shows dealing with the financial crisis in the same week. Where Lucy Prebble told the story of the previous best-known financial scandal and gently hinted at its relevance to current events, David Hare tries to tell the story of how capitalism nearly collapsed entirely in the last couple of years. Tries, but doesn't manage it - The Power of Yes comes with a couple of disclaimers: It's subtitled "A dramatist seeks to understand the financial crisis;" and the opening line is "This isn't a play, it's a story." In fact it's barely even that - Anthony Calf plays Hare himself, and what we see is a version of the interviews he conducted with financial figures, some well-known, some less so, a few anonymous. There's a huge cast, not a starry one but there's a lot of familiar faces there (people like Jeff Rawle, Jemima Rooper, Paul Freeman) who sadly don't get to do much apart from give brief lectures about what the banking system did wrong and how it imploded. At times it's fascinating, at others deathly dull, and while it does explain to the layman what went wrong, unfortunately the opening line is right - it isn't a play; sadly it compares particularly badly to Enron which managed to give all the facts while being engrossingly theatrical. It's almost awkward to watch at times because of the open admission that Hare hasn't really written a play - it's one of the country's most respected dramatists being commissioned by the National Theatre to write a play, not managing to, and having them stage his research notes instead.
The Power of Yes by David Hare is booking until the 10th of January at the National Theatre's Lyttelton.