Flexibility, Abstraction, Orthodoxy: The Lehman Trilogy and (the) British Capital


Alex Ferrone


This article examines Stefano Massini’s The Lehman Trilogy (which received its English-language premiere in a translation by Ben Power at the National Theatre in London in 2018) as an emblematic work of “capitalist dramaturgy,” a term I use to denote drama that articulates, in content, a critique of capitalism but whose form reveals the degree to which the capitalist ethos informs dramatic structure. I connect the play’s dramatization of late capitalism, first, to the multivalent and highly adaptable form of the text itself, written in free verse and without line attribution; and, second, to the political context of its transnational European production history—which culminated with commercial productions in London and New York. I argue, finally, that The Lehman Trilogy—in its critique of capital, its flexible dramaturgical structure, and its status as an artistic commodity—performs a remarkable alignment of content, form, and context, revealing the play to be equally as structured by capitalist logic and constrained by capitalist discipline as its subject.

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