Review: Enron. Curve Leicester (with De Montfort University Drama students)

Enron (15-18 May) is a Made At Curve and De Montfort University co-production and is very well performed by a talented company of Performing Arts BA (hons) students from the university.

The production standards are exceptionally high with an imposing multi level semi exposed set (Kate Unwin set designer) that utilises its platforms creatively and the tangled masses of electronic wires seem to symbolise the chaos of power just hidden beneath the surface of the story.

Given that much of the story of Enron is about greed and fantasy David Cooper’s video designs spread over several screens does much to add stock exchange and reportage realism to the, at times, absurd goings on. This absurdity includes the opening and occasional symbolic appearance of three human sized blind mice gingerly making their way around the lower part of the stage.

Under the keen direction of Jonathan Martin the seventeen strong cast of actors make full use of the stage with their group and ensemble work and the students background exploration of the piece and the era in which the action is placed is evident. All give 100% commitment, focus and maturity to the piece in playing a vast variety of roles including lawyers, analysts, news reporters, secretaries, named characters, blind mice and Velociraptors. Yes you read that right. The strength of characterisation in all of the parts, lead or ensemble is highly commendable. In this production the key figure roles are Ken Lay (Trey Fletcher), Claudia Roe (Molly Furey), Andy Fastow (Dominic White) and Jeffrey Skilling (Krishna Kant/Jadyn Thompson/Sam Cooper/Daniel Dore).

Playwright Lucy Prebble’s 2009 exciting play is based on the American energy company Enron’s financial scandal and company collapse and is time placed between 1992 -2001. The company was seen as one of the most creative companies in the world and incorporated slogans such as “We’re changing business, we’re changing people’s lives, we’re changing the world.” They claimed to be aggressive and risk taking and because of this they thought themselves winners in the business communities but hid high cost business failures from the public and their shareholders. “We’re a powerhouse for ideas” they said. “Something is happening in business.” It certainly was. The whole business hierarchy was built around tricks, lies and smoke and mirrors and fictitious company deals. The events that brought about their financial doom affected 29,000 employees, millions of customers and the company. Enron’s $63.4 billion in assets made it the largest corporate bankruptcy in U.S history in 2001.

This production in the Curve studio is a real winner and goes to prove the high quality of young talent in Leicestershire and at De Montfort University. They have chosen a challenging play with Enron and they do it proud.

Suitable 14+

Images from Enron rehearsal. Copyright De Montfort University.

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