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I recently had the pleasure of seeing Enron. This new play lays bare the archetypal corporate crime of the 1990s. White-collar crime may not be traditionally fertile ground for drama, but writer Lucy Prebble and cast have done an excellent job of bringing to life the story of Enron: blowing up the bubble and then blowing up the company.
At the heart of the play is a classic and well-crafted tragedy and morality tale. Accounting geeks Jeff Skilling (Samuel West) and Andy Fastow (Tom Goodman-Hill) find success exploiting aggressive interpretations of accounting rules. Amid ever-growing adulation and constant pressure, the pair double-up their bets and become ever more detached from the operating realities. Thus a minor sin snowballs into the fraud of the decade.
As the executives help corrupt – and are corrupted by – the “irrational exuberance” of the age, the audience is entertained by a series of well-aimed vignettes on the financial system. Expressed via the media of sassy Texans, Jedi energy traders and a pack of raptors, even mark-to-market accounting and off-balance-sheet finance can make for a riveting, thought-provoking night out.
Enron has sold out its run at the Royal Court. The production transfers to the Noël Coward Theatre from 16 January 2010 and is currently booking until 8 May.