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Enron
The Production Company

Also see Bill's review of Samsara


Skip Pipo and the Ensemble
Lucy Prebble's Enron is remarkable, initially simply because there are very few plays written about recent history, but the fact that it's about recent financial history makes it unique. It covers the story of the 1990s Enron rise and fall and works as a drama with intriguing characters, but more impressively, the play explains exactly what the mechanics of the scam were so every audience member will really understand it. The Los Angeles premiere by The Production Company is ambitious if slightly rough around the edges, but the performances are terrific and overall this is a fascinating show.

When Enron chief Ken Lay (Alex Egan) has to choose a new CEO to run the corporation, it's between experienced, traditional exec Claudia Roe (Ferrell Marshall) and radical financial ideas guy Jeffrey Skilling (Skip Pipo). Lay goes with Skilling and his wild ideas about energy trading, and soon the company's stock soars. Without electricity deregulation, however, Skilling's ideas are only good in theory, and he uses clever accountant Andy Fastow (David Lombard) to cover billions in debt with shell companies. Once George W. Bush gets elected, however, and electricity gets deregulated in California, the money starts pouring in. The sky's the limit, until people start dying due to massive power failures in California.

Pipo is superb as Skilling, capturing both the intellectual arrogance and genuine creative enthusiasm of the character, who may not be a tragic hero but is at least a human villain. Marshall is charming and cuttingly witty as Roe, who wasn't saintly herself but wasn't willing to bet her company's future on a theoretical financial con game. Egan is just right as the folksy but well-connected Lay, and Lombard is fine as Fastow, but the character seems a bit opaque as written. The rest of the ensemble offer strong work in multiple roles.

Director August Viverito does an admirable job of taking a play that probably needs the production facilities of the Taper and makes it work at the Lex. His staging is fluid and dynamic, and he gets great performances from his cast. Nancy Dobbs Owen's choreography is uneven, from a strong sequence on the trading floor to a set piece with green light sabers that simply feels silly. Viverito's sound design is mostly good, but there are several scenes where the cast's voices are drowned out by loud music. Playwright Prebble deserves much credit for taking a subject this arcane and making it not only comprehensible but also compelling. Although she is clearly not in favor of what Skilling and his crew did, she also seems to have a sneaking admiration for the creativity behind the many scams.

A production with this much talent and ambition should be supported, and happily, Enron is a highly entertaining show and well worth one's time.

The Production Company's Enron plays at The Lex Theatre through June 28, 2015. For tickets and information, see www.theprodco.com.

The Production Company presents Enronby Lucy Prebble. Directed by August Viverito. Assistant Directed by T. L. Kolman; Lighting Designer, Matt Richter; Set & Sound Designer, August Viverito; Choreographer, Nancy Dobbs Owen; Costume Designer, Kelly Graham; Production Stage Manager, Scott Fleming.

Cast:
Jeffrey Skilling : Skip Pipo
Board, Trader, Daughter, Programmer : Rainy Fields
Board, Sheryl Sloman, Trader, Quartet, Congresswoman, Newscaster : Judy Nazemetz
Board, Trader, Newscaster, Quartet, Programmer : Julia Buis
Lawyer, Trader, Quartet, Lehman Bro : AJ Jones
Claudia Roe : Ferrell Marshall
Ken Lay : Alex Egan
Trader, Raptor, Court Officer, Police Officer : Johnny Patrick Yoder
Andy Fastow : David Lombard
Trader, Arthur Anderson, Raptor : Alex Best
Trader, Quartet, Lehman Bro., Lawyer 2 : Luke McClure
Trader, Raptor, Security Officer, Senator : Jed Reynolds


Photo by Joanna Strapp

- Terry Morgan


- Terry Morgan






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