Edinburgh Theatre Arts
St Ninian's Hall
Edinburgh Theatre Arts’ ambitious production of Lucy Prebble's play Enron is funny and theatrically inventive. It is also very informative about the spectacular financial crash of the Enron Corporation in 2001.
It opens gently enough to the sound of Lou Reed singing "Perfect day" and an Enron party at which Jeff Skilling (Colin McPherson) is lauded after delivering his money making philosophy to an admiring group of employees.
The show is built around Skilling’s enthusiastic pursuit of the market logic of deregulation and the benefits of financial bubbles. It draws in his boss Ken Lay (Derek Marshall) whose old-style Southern charm helps smooth the way with the politicians around George W Bush and the socially awkward financial nerd Andy Fastow (David McCallum).
Colin McPherson gives a strong performance as the charismatic Skilling moving from overconfident arrogance to emotional breakdown. Derek Marshall conveys the amiable charm of Lay as someone who doesn’t need to do much to have his decisions implemented.
David McCallum plays Andy Fastow as uneasily shifting between shy vulnerability and a more sinister and dangerous figure.
Enron’s bankruptcy brought to light the failure of other organisations that turned a blind eye to the blatant deceptions at the heart of Enron’s official success. We see these on stage as three suited blind mice tapping their canes and the financial services firm of Lehman Brothers as clownish Siamese twins wearing a single suit and Enron’s accountants carrying their board of ventriloquists’ dummies.
Private companies who should have spotted Enron’s corruption instead made a lot of money. Others suffered from Enron’s excesses. California was left traumatised by Enron’s exploitation of the deregulated energy market. The company’s own employees lost pensions.
In 2001, the politicians said that it must never happen again and of course it has continued to happen. Lucy Prebble's play is a very entertaining way of reminding us what those politicians seem to have forgotten.
Reviewer: Keith Mckenna