Returning To The Dark Side With 'The Invisible Hand' At TheaterWorks

What’s it like to play an American banker who is kidnapped by a Pakistani militant organization, shackled in a concrete hideout for months, and whose future is anyone’s guess—ransom? Torture? Beheading? Escape?

Well, it’s pretty intense, says Eric Bryant, who plays that captive high-level employee of Citibank who specializes in the Pakistani futures market as depicted in The Invisible Hand, a play by Ayad Akhtar that is playing at Hartford’s TheaterWorks through Saturday, June 23.

To play that character again, says the New York-based actor, is a return trip into the heart of darkness.

Bryant first played the role of Nick Bright, the stressed-out—but also clever—high-tech banker when Westport Country Playhouse produced the show two years ago. That production received Connecticut Critics Circle awards for outstanding play, direction (for associate artistic director David Kennedy), and for Bryant as lead actor in a play.

 Eric Bryant receiving the CCC Award foie "The Invisible Hand." Photo by Mara Lavitt.

Eric Bryant receiving the CCC Award foie "The Invisible Hand." Photo by Mara Lavitt.

Rob Ruggiero, producing artistic director of TheaterWorks, took the unusual step in deciding to remount a show that was not initially a co-production, the first time in memory that one Connecticut theater has revisited a show by another.

Akhtar received a Pulitzer Prize for Disgraced, a domestic drama in which two upscale American couples deal with issues of race, religion, and assimilation—and which was presented several seasons back at New Haven’s Long Wharf Theatre. But in The Invisible Hand, the story is set in a bleak terrorist outpost in Pakistan and deals with manipulation of global financial markets, laundering schemes, and internal conflicts among the militants.

“This is going to be a brand new experience for me, revisiting a part after two years,” says Bryant.

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