The Improbable Fall, Rise, And Fall of John Law: A Play About Money in Eight Acts and a Prologue


Who is John Law? A rogue or a savior? A genius or a gambler? A conman or an innovator? From humble beginnings in Edinburgh, to a sterling reign as France’s Controller General of Finances in the infant years of Louis XV, the epic tale of economist John Law’s rise and fall spans forty years, eight acts, and nearly one-hundred characters. A bawdy and irreverent comedy about early modern finance, the sensational story of John Law, the inventor of paper money and the architect of the world’s first stock market boom-and-bust cycle, points to a legacy of financial shenanigans which continue to plague the world to this very day.

In Part I, a young John Law discovers that his incredible mathematical skills can lead to big winnings at the card table, or, just as easily, big losses, culminating in an unfortunate altercation that lands him in prison. Against a 17th-century London populated with thieves, fops, nymphomaniacs, and corrupt city officials, Law’s wit and ingenuity are the only things standing between him and the gallows of the notoriously sadistic Judge Salathiel Lovell.

Part 1 of the play (comprising the first three acts) received a workshop production in March, 2016 with the Dreamscape Theatre as part of the IRT 3B Development Residency. It was directed by Brad Raimondo. John was portrayed by Greg Carere, and the rest of the cast included Stephen James Anthony, Fernando Gonzalez, Mackenzie Knapp, Daryl Lathon, Rosie Sowa, Sara Thigpen, and Aurea Tomeski. The design team consisted of Joshua Rose (set and lighting), Caitlin Cisek (costumes), and Mark Van Hare (Sound design). Poster image by Jessie Herzfeld.

Below are some production images by Sergio Pasquariello:


Greg Carere & Rosie Sowa


Fernando Gonzalez, Daryl Lathon, & Rosie Sowa



The first two acts of The Improbable Fall, Rise, And Fall of John Law: A Play About Money in Eight Acts and a Prologue received a reading at Naked Angels as part of their 2nd annual Naked Angels/New School Summer Reading Series. It featured an appropriately large cast including David Barlow, Whitney Conkling, Keith Foster, Jeff Gonzalez, Grant Harrison, Claire Karpen, Karen Ludwig, Sean McIntyre, Jason Nuzzo, Stephen Pilkington, & Ned Van Zandt. The play was directed by Brad Raimondo.

More Than One Full-Length Comedy (120M / 20F without doubling, though I highly recommend doubling) (All six-hundred-something pages are available to read on the New Play Exchange, or contact me via

One thought on “The Improbable Fall, Rise, And Fall of John Law: A Play About Money in Eight Acts and a Prologue

  1. Pingback: Kevein Spacey Foundation Shortlist | Matt Herzfeld

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