Enron (New Theatre)

972247_476667269078808_773163525_n1.jpg  591×413Venue: New Theatre (Newtown NSW), Jun 4 – 29, 2013
Playwright: Lucy Prebble
Director: Louise Fischer
Actors: Matt Young, Cassandra-Lee Heschl, Nick Curnow, Peter Flett

Theatre review
This is a story about corporate fraud at its most outlandish. Based on true events, the script is careful to document key moments in the collapse of the Enron corporation, and to clearly explain relevant incidents to a general audience. It therefore makes sense that the play is a straightforward one, and unfolds like a series of historical re-enactments, even though contemporary theatre audiences would probably expect a more artistic or abstract mode of interpretation and expression.

Fischer’s direction is strong. Her emphasis on relationships between characters is a highlight of her play, with great onstage chemistry keeping the audience engaged, and also bringing to the fore, the scandalous role of inter-personnel company politics and hero-worship that had led to the eventual multibillion dollar demise. Less successful is Fischer’s handling of the countless scene changes that occur in the script, which create rhythmic issues with the flow of the all-important narrative. A stronger investment into set design could probably have assisted with this flaw.

It is noteworthy that the multi-talented support cast is utilised very well. Their level of commitment and focus is impressive, and they are key in keeping the tone of the production varied, enjoyable and unpredictable. Leading man Matt Young is outstanding in many scenes. He is especially powerful in conveying his character’s manic anxiety, and the show relies on his extraordinary intensity at many points to lift the drama to great heights, where the script could have actually been slightly pedestrian.

This is a slightly odd story to tell at New Theatre, given the American-ness and the somewhat unemotional nature of the tale, but it is indeed these characteristics of distance and apathy that colour the mild punishment for white-collar crime internationally, and this play does its best to raise our awareness of the depth of human damage if Enron is allowed to occur again.