I just came out of one of the finest plays I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen quite a few. Some beautiful geniuses in London took the most unlikely, dry subject and turned it into a compelling evening. Someone had the questionable idea to write a play about the rise and collapse of Enron. Well, it’s a masterpiece. One for the ages. Fetching to watch, expertly acted, deeply interesting and relevant for today.
Declaring something as the “best” is, of course, purely subjective. But, for me, this show came along at the exact right moment. I am down on the investment banking industry I spent my career in and have worked with people who were similar to the sociopaths portrayed in this play. But even if you care not a whit about finance or Wall Street shenanigans, Enron is worth seeing because it’s a visual feast and a master class in drama and humor. (Yes, it’s very funny.)
It helps that I did some homework beforehand. It always does. My head is an empty vessel that needs to be filled. Anytime I see a Shakespeare play, I jam the Cliff Notes version the week of the show. Likewise, for Enron, I recently saw the documentary Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room and it enhanced my experience. The more you carry into a theater, the more you take away.
The dry business of mark-to-market investing is made palpable by actors dressed as three blind mice, red-eyed raptors, neon lightsaber-wielding Jedis, a barber shop quartet (they’re from a rating agency!) and two Lehman Brothers employees who are hysterically portrayed as in-lockstep Siamese twins who speak in high-pitch sing-songy voices. It’s surreal. The stage design is smart and the use of multimedia is brilliant. Initially, I panicked at its 2:30 length but I’d gladly sit through it again. Perhaps I will.
Jason, I’m going to have to insist that you watch The Smartest Guys in the Room and then try to beg, borrow or steal a ticket to this show. It’s an unforgettable evening. You should consider yourself lucky that it’s within your geographic reach.