The Lehman Trilogy

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The Lehman Trilogy
Written byStefano Massini
Date premieredOctober 8, 2013
Place premieredComédie de Saint-Étienne (Saint-Étienne)
SubjectLehman Brothers

The Lehman Trilogy is a three-act play by Italian novelist and playwright Stefano Massini, the story of a family and a company that changed the world. It has been translated into 24 languages, staged by such directors as Luca Ronconi and Sam Mendes,[1] and was later published as a novel.[2]


The Lehman Trilogy opened at Comédie de Saint-Étienne in Saint-Étienne in a French translation. In 2015 Luca Ronconi directed the Italian premiere, at Piccolo Teatro in Milan. The play was eventually translated and staged in several cities across Europe.[3]

Adapted by Ben Power and directed by Sam Mendes, the play made its English debut in London at the Royal National Theatre[4] at the Lyttelton Theatre, running from 12 July 2018 to 20 October 2018.[5][6]

The play ran at the West End Piccadilly Theatre starting on 11 May 2019 for a limited twelve week run, which was extended for another 4 weeks, ending on 31 August 2019.[7][8]

Prior to its return to London, the play ran in the United States at the Park Avenue Armory, New York City, from 22 March 2019 to 20 April 2019.[9] The play is set to return to the United States, originally to open on Broadway at the Nederlander Theatre on 7 March 2020 in previews, officially on 26 March. Adam Godley, Ben Miles, and Simon Russell Beale, who play the three title brothers, their sons, and grandsons, will reprise their performances.[10][11][12] As of March 12, 2020, the show suspended production due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The show's Broadway production will be suspended until September 6, 2020 at the earliest.[13]


Mendes said: "The Lehman Trilogy was developed over three years without the constraint of a schedule, or even a destination—I was allowed time to find its form, and to build a wonderful team with which to make it. One of the chief joys has been to work across borders with two great writers, and to invite three of the finest actors of their generation to work with us. We are indebted to the National Theatre and the Park Avenue Armory for their unstinting support throughout..."[9]

The original play lasts for five hours[14] and Power has written it into a three-hour English version. With a cast of only three actors, Simon Russell Beale, Ben Miles, and Adam Godley, the play explores the vicissitude of American capitalism through the 164-year-history of Lehman Brothers, from when Henry Lehman, a German Jew, first migrated to the U.S. and opened his store in Alabama, to the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. that exacerbated the 2008 financial crisis.


Role Milan, 2015 National Theatre, 2018 Armory Theater NYC, 2019 Piccadilly Theatre, 2019
Henry Lehman Massimo De Francovich Simon Russell Beale
Emanuel Lehman Fabrizio Gifuni Ben Miles
Mayer Lehman Massimo Popolizio Adam Godley

The three actors not only play the three Lehman brothers who founded the business but all other roles. They play their children and grandchildren, including Philip Lehman (son of Emanuel, played by Simon Russell Beale), Herbert Lehman (son of Mayer, played by Ben Miles), and Robert Lehman (son of Philip, played by Adam Godley), as well as various minor characters[15] during the unfolding of family history such as wives, toddlers, and business partners, although they never change the original costume – tailored three-piece suits often seen in 19th century portraits of men. The understudies for the roles of Henry, Emanuel, and Mayer Lehman at the National Theatre were Leighton Pugh, Dominik Tiefenthaler, and Will Harrison-Wallace, respectively. Tiefenthaler replaced Miles during the show's run at the Piccadilly Theater.


The play has been highly praised by critics for "the successful adaptation that both preserves the essence, the poetic language of the original play and makes it more succinct"; "the elegant, well-paced direction that narrates with simplicity, depth and richness"; and "the superb, versatile acting of the cast, who seem to metamorphose at will with the characters they put on". The set design by Es Devlin – a rotating glass box furnished in the style of a contemporary office, as well as the video projection in the back stage that accompany the set, showing the changing landscapes in time and space during the development of the business and American capitalism created by Luke Halls, also made a great impression.[16] Both The Guardian and The Times give the play a five-star mark.

Awards and nominations[edit]

Original London production[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee Result
2018 Evening Standard Theatre Award[17][18] Best Play Nominated
2019 Laurence Olivier Award[19] Best New Play Nominated
Best Actor Simon Russell Beale, Adam Godley and Ben Miles Nominated
Best Director Sam Mendes Nominated
Best Set Design Es Devlin Nominated
Best Sound Design Nick Powell and Dominic Bilkey Nominated


The story was further developed into a novel published in Italian in 2016, under the title Qualcosa sui Lehman,[20] and appeared in English in 2020 as The Lehman Trilogy, translated by Richard Dixon.[21]


  1. ^ Giulio Einaudi (ed.). "Stefano Massini, Lehman Trilogy, Libri, Einaudi". Retrieved 12 April 2017.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Lehman Trilogy (in Italian), 2014
  4. ^ Angelini, Francesca. "The Italian playwright Stefano Massini on The Lehman Trilogy". The Times. Retrieved 21 August 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ The Lehman Trilogy, accessed 6 March 2019
  6. ^ McPhee, Ryan. "What Did Critics Think of 'The Lehman Trilogy' at London's National Theatre?" playbill, July 13, 2018
  7. ^ Lefkowitz, Andy. " 'The Lehman Trilogy' Will Transfer to the West End's Piccadilly Theatre", October 15, 2018
  8. ^ "The Lehman Trilogy Begins in the West End May 11",
  9. ^ a b Clement, Olivia. " 'The Lehman Trilogy' to Transfer to West End in Spring 2019" Playbill, October 15, 2018
  10. ^ Clement, Olivia. " The Lehman Trilogy to Open on Broadway Playbill, September 3, 2019
  11. ^ "Broadway Shuts Down: Performances Canceled Through April 12 Due to COVID-19 Pandemic". Retrieved 2020-04-08.
  12. ^ Paulson, Michael (2020-04-08). "Broadway Will Remain Closed at Least Until June, and Probably Longer". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-04-08.
  13. ^ Clement, Olivia (May 12, 2020). "Check the Statuses of Broadway Shows During the Coronavirus Shutdown". Retrieved May 29, 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  14. ^ Brantely, Ben. "Review: 'The Lehman Trilogy' Is a Transfixing Epic of Riches and Ruin". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 August 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  15. ^ Billington, Michael (13 July 2018). "The Lehman Trilogy review – Mendes is on the money with astonishing saga". The Guardian.
  16. ^ Morgan, Fergus. "The Lehman Trilogy at the National Theatre – review round-up". The Stage. Retrieved 24 August 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  17. ^ "Read the Evening Standard Theatre Awards 2018 shortlist in full". 2018-11-16. Retrieved 2020-12-03.
  18. ^ Foster, Robert Dex, Alistair (2018-11-20). "Best Actress Sophie Okonedo 'loves Ralph Fiennes to death every night'". Retrieved 2021-02-08.
  19. ^ Olivier Awards 2019 winners & nominees, Society of London Theatre, 7 April 2019
  20. ^
  21. ^