Poised to open at Sydney’s Theatre Royal, the Tony Award-winning drama Lehman Trilogy is a three-hander in the strictest sense: three actors (Aaron Krohn, Howard Overshown and Adrian Schiller) play all the characters in the epic story of the rise and catastrophic fall of America’s Lehman Brothers’ banking empire.

More accurately, perhaps, it’s a really four-hander. In a prominent position, in full view of the audience, sits a pianist who plays the show’s intricate score entirely live.

Intrigued, Limelight spoke to the show’s composer, Nick Powell, about the thinking behind his music, which he created in the rehearsal room with director Sam Mendes as the debut production’s actors got to grips with their roles.

Nick Powell, composer. Photo © National Theatre

What do you remember from your first encounter with the script back in 2017-18? Did it spark some immediate musical ideas?

I remember the script was almost like a very long poem at that point. The lines weren’t even ascribed to characters. But what struck me straight away were the repeating motifs in the text. To me it looked more like an enormous song lyric or an opera libretto rather than...