Having shuttered after just a week of shows in New York, Enron is still going strong in the country in which it was conceived and devised. Having just announced an extension until August 8 and with a national tour on the cards, many Brits find it hard to understand what the Americans did not like about this intellectual, satirical play. It's not really that much of a surprise, though, considering that it takes a long, hard look at American economic and political activity and comes up having found a great deal of corruption and not much else. Too many home truths for our Yankee buddies, methinks.
Although accents were variable throughout, the core point of the play was well-made and the explanation of how it fraudulently built its own stock up and then manipulated the markets were well-explained for a novice audience. In the lead roles of Skilling and Fastow, Samuel West and Tom Goodman-Hill were somewhat surprisingly sympathetic. The former played Skilling as a genius raised beyond his expectations, where his lack of people skills was completely exposed and as a man struggling along, trying to help the company he loved survive, even though that necessitated the use of illegal and awful behaviours to do so.
Goodman-Hill, on the other hand, gave financial whiz Andy Fastow a good touch of inferiority complex in his excellently nuanced portrayal. Even the way he moved gave the impression that Fastow felt he was inferior and wanted to please on an almost constant basis. Although his promotion to Chief Financial Officer brought him more confidence, in moments where he shared the stage with 'Lay' and 'Skilling', Goodman-Hill effectively conveyed his essential inadequacy.
As an amalgamation of female Enron executives, Amanda Drew was just fine, though given far too little to do. Although character Claudia Roe was just as unsympathetic in terms of her corporate single-mindedness as the men, she provided a good foil for their excessive behaviour with her choice to quit the company instead of allowing herself to be used as a pawn for the men's actions, which would eventually land them in jail.
The songs and dance routines that peppered this production may seem like an odd choice for a serious play about the Enron crisis but they were so cleverly done and to such a high standard that they integrated perfectly with the occasionally over-long and overly complicated monologues that were spread throughout. The satirical use of Siamese twins to represent Lehman Brothers, the blind mice in the boardroom and the small child asking 'why' all contributed towards a production that encapsulates everything Brits like - a bit of music, a bit of satire, some serious, intellectual talk all meshed into one great play.