"The Low Road" by Bruce Norris is all over the map — and it was meant to be. Set mostly in the 18th Century, it's modeled after the picaresque stories about roguish fellows on wild adventures, a perfect motif for Norris's message taking a shot at capitalist greed. And if "The Low Road" meanders too much for its own good, it's still a ripping yarn well worth the investment.
With an 18-member cast, Norris tells the tale of Jim Trewitt, a self-serving young man who embodies the worst of our capitalist instincts.
It begins with Jim's arrival as an infant at the doorstep of a ditzy brothel owner. When he turns 17, he takes off on a quest to seek his fortune, but it's misfortune that he encounters, much of it by his own hand: murders, robbery, destitution, slave trading.
It's narrated by none other than Adam Smith, the name of the real-life 18th Century philosopher known as the Father of Modern Economics. Throughout the raucous goings-on, he is played by the marvelous Daniel Davis as a coolly dispassionate observer.
The play winds its way through stylistic shifts, and it anachronistically cracks wise. But while the momentum never flags, it tends to ramble without completing its dramatic arc, ending quite outlandishly. But Michael Greif's production is quite a corker nonetheless, and he's aided by a flawless company.
Taking on multiple roles, Harriet Harris, Kevin Chamberlin, and Chukwudi Iwuji lead a terrific company, with the excellent Chris Perfetti as the young rake Trewitt.
"The Low Road" takes us on a wacky journey, but there is method to its madness. Norris knows exactly what he's doing, telling the incredible story of how the wealth of our nations came to be so unjustly rigged.