"Enron" (Modern Plays)

Enron - Lucy Prebble Completely and utterly bonkers.The entire ENRON case - where the company committed one of the largest cases of financial fraud in history by misrepresenting earnings to improve their performance, modifying balance sheets and a little light laundering - is so bombastic, so ridiculous that it's hard to believe it really happened. It was one of the most successful smoke and mirror shows in business history so it makes sense that Lucy Prebble's play would be built upon the thrill of the illusion, creating a spectacle so large and impossible to hate that it gave the world rose tinted glasses. Prebble fills her play with dance, surreal images and metaphors, bright lights and circus style shenanigans in order to replicate a more literal representation of the carnival ENRON created. How many pieces of drama about business fraud do you know have Jurassic Park references, android accountants, 3 blind mice, messiah imagery and raptors? This also serves to make something as dry and often confusing as financing rather interesting. No mean feat! It's over the top and often as subtle as a brick but then again it's supposed to be. It's a children's fable, a cautionary tale designed to shock and awe. Prebble's interpretation of Jeffrey Skilling is one of almost Shakespearean proportions - he's a dreamer, one consumed with the thrill of the chase who doesn't mind making himself unpopular in order to reach for the stars, no matter how impossible his dreams may seem. Your mileage will vary on your opinion of him by the play's end (which is a little hampered by being so rushed and a tad convoluted) since, even with such a tragic hero depiction, it's hard to sympathise with a man who ruined so many lives then tried to convince everyone he had no idea what was going on in his company (this reminded me a lot of recent events with the News of the World and Rebekah Brooks & Rupert Murdoch trying to convince everyone they had no idea their team were hacking into the voicemails of a murdered schoolgirl.) I also thought the elements with Skilling's distant relationship with his daughter were too cliched a manner to humanise him.It's probably not a play that's supposed to be read since it relies so heavily on putting on a bombastic show to dazzle the audience (I'm still kicking myself for missing the play when it came to Edinburgh last year) but even without the visuals, there's a very entertaining tragi-comedy in these pages. It's definitely not for everyone (as witnessed by how badly the play bombed on Broadway, closing after less than a month, even with the lovely Norbert Leo Butz in the leading role) but for those with an open mind and a willingness to go with the flow, ENRON is unlike anything in modern theatre. Lucy Prebble is one to watch, if you ignore that terrible Secret Diary of a Call Girl show she writes. Here's some YouTube stuff of the play.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1pP90sy574