Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

There was a warning. And its name was Enron.

Right from the opening scene, it's a foregone conclusion how this modern-day tragedy is going to end.

And you don't even need to know the real-life story to see it.

As soon as someone explains how the titular company is now valuing employees in terms of expected success, the actual future immediately looks quite shaky, which either disproves the philosophy, or proves it.

Over two hours and ten minutes, the final decade of Enron's trading unfolds like a cross between a darkly sinister conspiracy theory, and an episode of The Simpsons.

On the conspiracy theory side, events are broken up throughout by TV news footage of the day, taking us from Bill Clinton's entry into the Whitehouse in 1993, right up to 911, with Enron's share price progressively escalating on read-out screens around the theatre. (occasionally in advance of the corresponding development on stage) The scene in which the principle characters are hanging on the famously ambiguous outcome of the 2000 Bush / Gore election is milked for all it's worth.

Then on The Simpsons side... well, you know how every so often on The Simpsons they all go and visit the theatre? And it's always to see some all-singing, all-dancing variety show that's based on some dry mundane boring subject that no-one in their right mind would ever base a musical around?

Well, this is just such an all-singing, all-dancing variety show, about a famous American gas and oil company going bankrupt. Either director Rupert Goold has never watched those episodes of the yellow family, or he has, and is intentionally parodying them. I think it's the latter.

Despite the American accents, the whole cast performs this well, particularly those doubling as the hungry dinosaurs who symbolise the company's growing debt. It's a real shame that these creatures never got to fight any of the characters who were wielding light-sabres.

For me, one of the play's downsides would have to be the poor mixing of the musical numbers, the lyrics to which were consistently drowned out by the music. Also the irrelevant sex and profanity content. I counted the F word getting used over 50 times, which seriously upped the production's air of pretentiousness, perhaps intentionally.

The play's central question though - about just how much of our decisions and beliefs are based upon projections - is certainly one that resonates with me. Just how many times on this blog have I banged on about the theory of evolution, or the infinite size of space?

Enron makes for a colourful, fun evening with some genius business conjuring to keep the whole thing facinating.

But don't take my word for it. This page might just be hype.

Official site and trailer here.

(with thanks to Alistair)


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