Business as usual it ain't

Enron has transferred to the Noel Coward Theatre after its beginnings at the Chichester Festival (where I saw it early last year) and then its run at the Royal Court. At the time I thought it was the best new play I'd seen that year and, indeed, yesterday its director, Rupert Goold, won the Critic's Circle award for best director for it. This was one of the few winners I managed to vote for in this year's awards, the others being the best musical, Spring Awakening and best designer, Christopher Oram, who won it for Red (though I'm not altogether sure I didn't vote for him, but as designer of a different production).

 0127_enron_photobyhelenmaybanks.jpgn: markets and multi-million dollar debt are surprisingly entertaining. Photo by Helen Maybanks


            Lucy Prebble, its playwright, said in an interview that she'd done a good deal of rewriting of Enron, which was my excuse for going a second time. Last night was a glittering social occasion: the theatre was packed, not just with the usual luvvy suspects, but with political comment heavies, such as Andrew Marr and David Dimbleby - and the Marquis of Salisbury, who'd himself been part of the Northern Ireland talks reports on the mid-day news.  Was the play altered?

            Not having a script, I can't say definitively. But it was my impression that the first half had become more a director's play than the author's, in that dialogue was at a minimum; and the song and dance business that made the telling of the great business scandal so wacky and enjoyable at Chichester had taken over the stage almost entirely.

            The second half had dialogue, plenty of it. Jeffrey Skilling (Samuel West) now dominates it completely, and it ends with a soliloquy I can't swear I remember, expressing the character's dedication to MONEY. Indeed, I was more impressed with the development of Mr West's character first time around, as he went from apparent nebbish to sympathetic divorced father, only gradually becoming a selfish monster. I remember him at Chichester being at first shocked by the apparent amorality of his associate, Andy Fastow's creation of lizard-headed "raptors" (who "eat" Enron's bad debts).

            Last night Tom Goodman-Hill's Andy came close to stealing the show - he was totally credible, his mid-Western, nasal accent perfect, his physical movement in the treadmill scene glorious. Tim Pigott-Smith hasn't been as good as this since he was the really scary villain of The Jewel in the Crown.  The company was beautifully drilled by Rupert Goold and choreographer, Scott Ambler, and the play remains superb. However, last night it seemed (as it did not at Chichester) a touch too long. At least 15 minutes too long. If Mr West's final monologue were to go, it wouldn't be missed at all. Still how can you complain about a show that gives you so painlessly  a Harvard Business School-type introduction to the basic financial issues of one of the greatest scandals of our time? 

January 27, 2010 6:41 PM | | Comments (0)

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This page contains a single entry by Plain English published on January 27, 2010 6:41 PM.

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