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MAY 14 - JULY 13, 1998

A financier under investigation by the SEC, a female corporate attorney and an Episcopal priest play out a charade of buying and selling spiritual respectability.  A love story in which each must discover the truth of their own needs, the price paid and the "profit" earned; Yield of the Long Bond examines how, why and in whom we invest our faith and our resources.

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L-R: David Dukes, Julia Campbell & Gregory Itzin

L-R: David Dukes, Anna Gunn & Ian McShane


BackStage West
Reviewed by Rob Kendt

There is rare pleasure to be had in the Matrix's now-regular double-casting, in which two actors are assigned each role in each production and then mixed and matched throughout the show's run in various combinations. With a play as resonant and troubled as Larry Atlas' Yield of the Long Bond, this pleasure is especially acute, if problematic. Atlas' bleak love triangle between a rogue Wall Street investor, a slick young lawyer, and a down-at-heels Episcopal pastor is so perorative and schematic, giving each of its three characters more fourth-wall-breaking speeches than real interaction—more to say to us than to each other—that it represents a sort of acting triathlon, a three-way show of dexterity and force. And since Atlas' characters are so atomized and, in director Andrew J. Robinson's artful, worried staging, so sharply drawn, it is easy to imagine all six actors interchanging willy-nilly without much variation in the production's impact.

That impact is no less harsh for its seeming, at bottom, profoundly confused. In pitting a sleek, beautiful young professional woman between a rich vulgarian and a queasy idealist and making her the battleground (unfortunately quite literally) for an intensely serious debate on faith, hope, and love, Atlas risks the canard that he's doing what men, and male writers, have always done: Looked to women for redemption, even as we deemed them in need of our rescue.

The young attorney Ellen Kastner (Julia Campbell, Anna Gunn) is a fallen angel at best, a squeaky-clean Princeton girl unloosed into the high-powered evil and low-level spiritual drudgery of big business, where she learns to play its deadly garae as perfectly as she used to say her prayers. That game includes getting into bed with such unsavory charmers as Paul Rosario (Gregory Itzin, Ian McShane), a man with the kind of terrifying self-assurance that dares a challenge. He meets his match in Ellen, who at first plays along with his sexual feints and degradations but soon loses the stomach for them, suggesting—ostensibly as a practical matter—that he get involved in charity work to offset the damage of an impending SEC prosecution.

That leads them into the weak thrall of John Shelly (David Dukes, Byron Jennings), a priest with a modest think-tank project to promote spiritual values in a soulless age—which of course leads to Ellen's wavering consideration of these issues, and in general to the level of windy, contrarian philosophizing on which Atlas clearly wants to operate. He introduces an increasingly lurid and incredible plot, and several new moral wrinkles, into the mix, but even the sudden reversals and telling observational details are as schematic as a prospectus, his dialogue often embarrassingly blunt and self-revealing.

How to play this uneasy mix of monologue, flashback, and confession? Under Robinson's unwavering gaze, these six actors manage, with varying degrees of passion, intelligence, and courage, to elevate the work into the rumination it wants to be. McShane captures Paul's arrogance and steel, Itzin his rue and sick sense of play; Gunn shows us Ellen's terrible complicity in her own loss of innocence, while Campbell suggests the possibly more terrible human fiber that has survived it. Jennings and Dukes have the most difficult, and most schematic, transition of the play; while the tender Jennings makes his priest's turnabout both brutal and pitiful, the edgier Dukes makes it movingly pathetic, a true human loss.

Deborah Raymond & Dorian Vernacchio's sparse set, Keith Endo's busy lights, and Peter Erskine's portentous music are all as deliberate, and as ultimately haunting, as is the acting, consolidating the Matrix's well-deserved reputation as one of the boldest and brightest showcases for stage talent on this coast.

L-R: Anna Gunn & Ian McShane

The Hollywood Reporter
Reviewed by Ed Kaufman

Larry Atlas' "Yield of the Long Bond" has a little of everything: a bit of humor; a lot of intense philosophizing about the mysteries of love, the earthly and the spiritual; and a morality tale about faith vs. greed. And in the second act, the play shifts to a psychological whodunit and murder mystery that is full of soul-searching, irony and angst.

Despite using some patches of rhetoric in place of dramatic writing, Atlas is a first-rate playwright, able to move his actors with ease and assurance. Credit Andrew J. Robinson's savvy, free-flowing, expressionistic direction, which keeps things constantly moving.

"Yield" — having its world-premiere run at the Matrix — tells the story of Paul Rosario (the thoroughly convincing Gregory Itzin), a ruthless, arrogant, base, hedonistic, foul-mouthed Manhattan investor whose net worth is roughly $400 million. When he learns from his lawyer/lover Ellen Kastner (Julia Campbell) that he is being investigated by the SEC for insider trading and stock manipulation, she convinces him change his image and make a large donation to the Parish Project run by Father Shelley (Byron Jennings). All this for Rosario's respectability when it comes time for his trial.

Shelley's project wants to "promote thought in a thoughtless environment"; it includes a newsletter and the commissioning of a book promoting a spiritual life. Soon Ellen is caught between the the sacred and the profane worlds.

Writer Atlas has the three square off with one another: the corrupt and cynical loner Rosario, the once-idealistic Ellen (who seem fit only for each other) and Shelley, the Episcopalian priest with an agenda. Seemingly, it's the classic struggle of Good vs. Evil. Only Atlas has some updated opinions and observations of his own.

Act 1 ends with Ellen's murder, and Act 2 becomes the whodunit It also includes the unraveling of who the trio is, with all sorts of twists and turns, the surfacing of old memories and revelations that are quite effective and really touching.

As always, the Matrix Theatre production features two casts.

L-R: Byron Jennings & Gregory Itzin

Rave! Magazine



For the first time since the Matrix Theater in Los Angeles began single production revivals five years ago, the theater presents two new contemporary American plays in repertory: "The Water Children" and "Yield of the Long Bond." Both are double cast.

In Larry Atlas' rather heartless work, "Yield of the Long Bond," the second of the Matrix plays in repertory, a man of greed faces off against a man of God. You could say it's a contest of epic proportions — and the woman in the middle gets soaked.

Using the same set as "The Water Children," Ian McShane is Satan — the soulless Paul Ro-sario, a charismatic, impeccably dressed, morally bankrupt tycoon on the Verge of being financially bankrupt as well.

Byron Jennings is the voice of God as John, a humble pastor in corduroy with his own repressed issues. Anna Gunn is the trapped Ellen, a high-powered attorney in excessively expensive and sexy suits who has no life except to be at Rosario's beck and call.

She's lost because she's denied her own feelings for so long in the attempt to bill those all-important hours. She's become a victim in a nasty game.

The language of this play is fast and furious, Rosario spewing out financial terms like they were his first language. And as a boy wonder with stocks, they nearly were.

Under Andrew J. Robinson's direction, the first act is witty, sharp, funny and cold. At the opening of Act Two, we find the men in jail, unsure which of them is the inmate. The story becomes Ellen's, focusing on her emptiness and longings. It becomes a dark, mean, series confrontations. In flashback. Ellen opens up to John, to confess her sins and emptiness.. That is her mistake.

Keith Endo's lighting and Audrey Eisner's costuming are first rate.

The performances are also excellent...

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