A year after it was supposed to open Theater J’s 2010-11 season, Imagining Madoff finally came to 16th Street NW this August. But it was hard to watch this play by Deb Margolin and not imagine the one thing missing: Elie Wiesel. The original draft had featured a boozy fictional encounter between the humanitarian icon and Bernie Madoff, the disgraced financier whose Ponzi scheme drained Wiesel’s foundation and personal fortune. That was too much for Wiesel, who threatened legal action. Margolin and Theater J’s artistic director, Ari Roth, had a falling out amid the controversy, but by this spring they’d reconciled and agreed to stage the play in Washington. In interviews, they both speculated that the play would be stronger scrubbed of Wiesel, and to be sure, Imagining Madoff’s Scotch-fueled dialectic proved to be a satisfying meditation on a particular banal kind of evil. Still, on opening night, I found myself wishing that Madoff’s on-stage foil, a fictional poet named Solomon Galkin, had a bit more of Wiesel’s moral stature. But I suspect the play had no trouble resonating in subsequent engagements around the country during this Occupy Wall Street-obsessed autumn. After all, is there a better poster boy for financial villainy than Bernie Madoff?