Before Northern Rock, RBS and the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the financial markets were shocked by the 2001 collapse of Enron, the golden boy of the USA Energy Market.
The rise and the spectacular fall of Enron has now been turned into one of the hottest tickets in town in a new play by Lucy Prebble. First staged at the Chichester Festival in 2009, then a sell out run at The Royal Court, Enron is now firmly embedded into the Noel Coward Theatre where it has just announced a three month extension to its run. And it’s easy to see why audiences continue to be drawn to this dazzling play.
Other plays have tried to capture the financial crisis but most ultimately fail, due in part to the complex and, perhaps, staid subject matter. The genius of Rupert Goold’s exquisite staging however, is that, while never shying away of exposing the greed and corruption, these are supplemented by humour to underline the sheer lunacy of a company that managed to go $30billion into debt and try and keep trading.
Stock trading is a fast paced environment and this production matches that hectic pace in a multimedia onslaught. The Enron stock price is a constant ticker tape at the back of the stage and lighting, video, song, dance and inventive staging keeps the action flowing. Any show that manages to combine line dancing, dinosaurs and light sabres into a financial drama deserves ever plaudit it has achieved.
Despite the visually stunning staging the performances more than manage to hold their own. Prebble’s script gives ample opportunity to delve under the skin of the flawed minds behind the scandal and Samuel West, Tim Pigott-Smith and Tom Goodman-Hill as the driving forces of Enron all excel. West in particular is a man tormented by his ambition and ultimate downfall.
There is not one week element in this production; the show is about to open on Broadway and unlike the company it’s named after shows now sign of collapse yet. A must see for anyone with an interest in theatre.