Wednesday, 19 May 2010

ENRON the Play

Noel Coward Theatre, London
One sunny London afternoon, my lovely friend, Erin, kindly offered me her matinee tickets to see Enron the Play. I can tell you I jumped with joy at the opportunity as I have been wanting to see this play for a while. THANK YOU ERIN!

Enron is a play based on true events of an infamous financial scandal at the end of last century in the capitalist hub America. I know of Enron, the company, since I first studied management and the name has been an echo in my business educated mind since (especially later working at McK). Having read Barbarian at the Gate and the Firm but not seen the movies, I have actually never seen anything theatrical about the so-called dry, dull and boring world of finance  has always been portrayed more as  a villain than a hero in our societies.

I heard of Enron the Play through the FT Life&Art section a while ago. I'm more of a musical theatre, opera, ballet type of person, plays are not always high on my list.  But Enron grabbed my attention immediately. One. Because Enron the Firm. Two. Because of Lucy Prebble, who is only 27 but has already won the George Devine Award and the Critic Circle Award for Most Promising Playwright for her debut play "The Sugar Syndrome". People's genius is something I can't help but admire! (Though had you read my previous post on Elizabeth Gilbert's nurturing talents, you'd know that I am taking a different take on genius now).  And Three. What a relevant play it is to appear in the West End while we are still in the middle of a recession, the culprit again... was the finance world.

Funny enough I couldn't convince any of my finance-sector friends to go and see the play! Most of them didn't even know there was something like that out there. I have to stress that not all of them are oblivious to culture.

Anyhow I thought the play was brilliant.  Director Rupert Goold has done a great job creating a melage of music, dance and video. He has certainly brought the dull finance world a bit closer to people less familiar with that working environment. People outside the circle never know what the hell people in finance do. Even people from within the circle don't know most of the time. So I thought the play in a way does casts new light & explanation on the current financial turmoil we are in. And yes it is still nothing more than people becoming over-greedy for money, aggressive and vulgar traders doing their things and their downfall... Most of the time taking the rest of us down with them.

Having a background in business I found the content easy to understand. My friend, who saw it with me and who does not have a business background, didn't find it difficult to understand either. I loved hearing the jargons being played around on stage & in an artistic environment!!! And found it incredibly exciting to see a list of financial terms explained in the programme (people will go "how sad!" of me)... I really felt so at home and cringing at the same time. I felt proud and embarrassed. What a weird sensation. However, the sense of humour was brilliant, the irony always present and the Lehman Brothers were just painfully hilarious. The cast is also fantastic - with Corey Johnson as Skilling, Paul Chahidi as Fastow, Clive Francis as Ken Lay and the beautiful Sara Stewart as Claudia Roe.

The play also raises a lot of question for me, personally.. I could see the genius minds of the finance world, many of whom I believe are not understood and as well known as those in creative industries (but they are rich!). But I cannot get over the fact how many of they could get so carried away, delusional, greedy and stupid? If there is anything I have learnt in academia, it is that we do not learn from past mistakes, we merely just disguise them in other forms. Every economic crash has been more or less based on the same fundamentals but people are so greedy and caught up in their own success that they cannot stop until it is too late. There is something fundamentally wrong but I doubt much is being done to change it now.

Instead of going on and on about this, I just want to say that I highly recommend this production. It is a great opportunity for those who are in finance and business but rarely care about the theatrical world to be re-connected to the arts. Or just for anyone wanting to see a good piece of work on stage!

Anyone care to explain why ENRON, the Play was rejected so quickly on Broadway! ;)

The Trading Floor

The Lehman Brothers

Clive Francis as Ken Lay

Sara Stewart as Claudia Roe

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