On 15 September 2008, capitalism came to a grinding halt. As sub-prime mortgages and toxic securities continued to dominate the headlines, last spring NT artistic director Nicholas Hytner asked Hare to respond with a play that sought to find out what had happened, and why. The resulting piece is based on interviews with key financial figures, including George Soros, as well as journalists, academics, politicians and regulatory officials.
The premiere production is directed by Angus Jackson and is performed by an ensemble cast including Anthony Calf, playing Hare “The Author”, Jeff Rawle, Jemima Rooper, Ian Gelder, Claire Price, Malcolm Sinclair, Richard Cordery, Jonathan Coy, Nicolas Tennant, Peter Sullivan and Simon Williams.
Including The Power of Yes, David Hare has premiered 15 original plays at the National to date, including Stuff Happens, The Permanent Way - both also based largely on interviews - Amy’s View, Skylight, The Secret Rapture, The Absence of War, Murmuring Judges, Racing Demon, Pravda (written with Howard Brenton), Plenty and last year’s Gethsemane.
Coming just a fortnight after the London opening of Enron, The Power of Yes was inevitably compared with Lucy Prebble’s play about that earlier financial collapse – and not always favourably - by overnight critics. While all appreciated Hare’s ability to “doggedly” ask “important questions” and “offer a clear, combative analysis of this mind-knotting, epoch-making mess”, many felt shortchanged by the evening’s lack of drama. Hare himself readily acknowledges that The Power of Yes is a story rather than a play; verdicts as to whether it succeeds as such seem to depend largely on one’s stance toward the validity of “theatre as journalism”.