You’re probably reading this at work, aren’t you? Put your cuppa down, and go and buy tickets to Enron at the Noel Coward. Right this second. This show is nothing short of outstanding.
I’m not Enron’s target audience. When everything with Enron happened, I was a bratty teenager who had no idea about the world (ahem, some might say that’s still the case) and I didn’t really care about finance and the stock market. Actually, I still don’t care about that. It’s a giant mass of numbers to me and not much else. And I still don’t really understand how you trade billions of dollars that don’t really exist. I was worried that an awful lot of this show would go over my head. It didn’t. It was perfectly pitched and fabulously executed.
To give you a (very basic) rundown, Enron were an energy company who decided to start trading gas and electricity in the 90s (more revolutionary than it sounds), only whilst the share prices went up, the profits didn’t, so they basically did everything they could to hide the debt – including building another company to swallow the deficits. If you know the story of Enron (it’s public knowledge after all) you’ll know the rest, but if you don’t, I actually don’t want to ruin it for you. You’ll be excited either way.
This isn’t a straight dramatic performance. There’s a bit of singing, and bit of dancing and a bit of physical theatre. Masks, fancy lighting, really cool effects. This play actually had everything. And not one bit of it look out of place. Everything worked together and made the show even more exciting. They also cleverly showed the stock prices every so often and whilst I don’t really have a clue what those numbers mean, I know that up is good and down is bad. It was a simple way of keeping up with what was going on. I got a bit confused about some of the legislation stuff – it wasn’t always explained well. I still have no idea why California wanted to deregulate electricity, but that essentially led the blackouts so I felt that was quite important. But that was the only time I felt lost during what could have been a very complicated story. Understanding how all this tied in with events like the Bush Election and 911 made the play much more interesting.
Corey Johnson was fabulous as Jeffrey Skilling. There was a lovely quality of ‘playing God’ to his character. But it was easy to empathise with him as well. I don’t believe he meant to rip of thousands of people. It’s that conflict that makes the show interesting. You can’t directly dislike the guy, he’s too fascinating to watch. But then, there’s no weak link in the cast.
I can’t remember the last time I was so surprised by a play, I also can’t remember the last time I saw a play this good. I’d happily go and see this show again and enjoy it just as much. You’ll come out feeling excited, asking questions and wishing that the news was as accessible as this play. They’ve turned what’s a difficult (and timely) subject into a fascinating, gripping play.
Photo courtesy of Helen Maybanks