Thursday, October 14, 2010

Theatre: Enron

Gaiety Threatre: ***


Enron is the story of one of America's greatest corporate transformations, a corporation that set itself free from the mundane task of producing something useful (energy) so as to concentrate on the much more important job of creating phantom profits and big bonuses. This show is probably the most flashy, musically up-tempo production in the Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival: lightsabers, raptors, a very clever dance sequence based on traders' hand signals... this is as much a musical as a play. The slow-motion acting effects are particularly well done, almost gravity defying.

Underneath all the flashing lights, crazy dances and (well chosen) powerful music lies a story of greed and fear. While many commentators suggest that this tale of financial woe is of great contemporary relevance, personally I feel that this is yesterday's story. Yes, many of the same problems still exist, but fundamentally Enron is inconsequential compared to the modern banking crisis. Sure, shareholders got burnt, and sure, it's doubly sad for employees who bought stock, but ultimately Enron's demise is exactly what should happen to big, stupid, greedy companies that make major mistakes: they go bust, the senior managers' reputations are ruined, and if there was potentially illegal activity then it is investigated. Today's situation is a far bigger, more complex, more important story - and I'm looking forward to seeing how the world of theatre responds to it.

Sometimes it's easy to recommend a play - B for Baby for example is just plain good and that's that. Enron's not so simple: while it is undoubtedly impressive - even spectacular - it loses momentum towards the end and feels rather drawn out. At 2 hour 40 minutes, and with the conclusion clear well in advance, the end of Enron will come as a relief.

Enron runs in the Gaiety until 16th October as part of the Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival.

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