Gulfshore Playhouse in Naples: ‘The Invisible Hand’ by Ayad Akhtar
Watch a scene from ‘The Invisible Hand’ by Ayad Akhtar during a dress rehearsal, Tuesday, March 22, 2022, at the Norris Community Center in Naples.
Landon Bost, Naples Daily News
Money changes everything.
Tom Gray composed it. Cyndi Lauper recorded it.
Ayad Akhtar used it. Money is the plot fulcrum for his “The Invisible Hand,” opening Saturday at Gulfshore Playhouse. This play isn’t about a mom-and-pop company that comes into a fortune or the bitcoin speculator next door or the ne’er-do-well who strikes oil on his Texas property. It’s about a group of Pakistani ideologues who are presented the most dangerous weapon of all — the financial markets.
The drama is from the same playwright whose “The Who and the What” played at Gulfshore in 2016 and who wrote the best-seller “Homeland Elegies.” It was a top 10 choice for 2020 among nearly every major book reviewer in the U.S. Akhtar won a Pulitzer Prize in 2013 for another of his dramas, “Disgraced.”
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“The Invisible Hand” refers to the Adam Smith economic theory that, simplified, declares everyone’s pursuit of self-interest will actually benefit the economy around them by the resulting interactions, bringing it into balance. One can judge how well that works by the changes that consume the play’s characters
High-stakes stress heats their relationships. Imam Saleem needs money to help the communities his group advocates for, but he has found himself a semi-fugitive, on the U.S. official list of terrorists. Futures trader Nick Bright just longs to get out of Pakistan alive; the group has kidnapped him to make money the old-fashioned way — with a $10 million ransom. Bright’s captor, Bashir, is a quick student who wants to learn Bright’s financial manipulations and is willing to barter Bright’s freedom for his own market power.
“It’s ironic, ” said Aby Moongamackel, who plays Bashir. “He’s always rallying against all that power and all that money, saying he’s helping all those people and, in the end, he becomes victim to it. It shows a universality in how people fall into the same traps.”
But he likes his character.
“Bashir is such a departure from the …….