So Columbia pictures picked up movie rights last fall and Enron the musical is a hit currently running in London with a slated American Broadway debut in April. Nancy Coyne and Matthew Serino of Serino Coyne, Inc. are of course the contracted marketers. Oh Enron. Why stop there? Surely there’s enough tempestuousness, euphoria, and damnation here for the Met.
I’m all for the succinct but those who reduce Enron to a simple story of greed are wrong. It’s more. Greed is everywhere; Enrons aren’t.
- Enron is a story of how fabulously packaged, visionary, anointed and touted tragic figures can be.
- It’s a story of free market fail—Transparency: FAIL. Board check: FAIL. FASB and mark-to-market accounting: FAIL. Auditor check: FAIL. Street valuations: FAIL. SEC check: FAIL. Corporate law: FAIL. Media check: FAIL.
- It’s a story of the village lie. The awakening to the fact that you’re a cult—he lied, they’re gone and so is all your stuff.
- Like a viral hijack of the host, it’s a story of escalating fever and hype’s displacement of the real. The madness of crowds. The delusion of brilliance and brilliance of delusion. The “fucking” qualifier—as in “I’m fucking smart”, so said Jeff Skilling.
- It’s a story of strippers and Ivy Leaguers not only dining finely but fleeing on just-in-time jets.
- It’s about how to grow monsters: Reptilian-eyed drooling energy traders beautifully dreaming of California blackouts—because when you’re spanked and promoted for stealing from Enron, robbing California is a line extension.
- It’s a story of heartache. Demotions of the right. Promotions of the sick. Homicidal ideation. Nervous breakdowns on New York streets. Heart attacks. Suicidal ideation. Handcuffs. Rises. Foreclosures–of dreams and homes. In-group injury-laden dangerous weekend motorcycle treks. Weight loss. The sublime. Death spirals. Pep rallies. A ride. From Fortune 7 to zero.
- It’s a story of capitalism, a whole modern civilization’s preoccupancy and dream and all the yuck-yuck + hallucinogenics + heroinesque desperation and ultimate sobriety therewith.
- It’s debacle, human neuroses, unchecked testosterone, legerdemain, and the art of the lie at its modern finest.
Surely that’s worth some librettist’s pen, a score and 200 piece orchestra, a “And I’m Telling You Ken, We’re Screwed” Sherron Watkins aria, steely staging, costumery and heaping servings of Juilliard. By my judgment at least.
Comments from the 28-year-old playwright Lucy Prebble include these:
“When you’re in a bubble, you can actually be quite surreal because that’s what it’s like before it bursts,” says Prebble of the whimsical performances. “We thought we could get away with people breaking into song.”
Is she kidding? She could get away with certified magic tricks. Book-a-minute classics if it was “play-a-minute classics” would condense the whole play to a glass chest box full of money; hover over it with a black curtain and wave a baton; voilà! No money! Repeat.
“Enron” is her attempt to “show the show business of business.”
“I had read a lot about Enron and I didn’t really understand it until I read her play.” —producer Laura Ziskin.
Fiction is the lie that tells the truth. So is the stage, but—as Serino Coyne taught me—in a group in the dark. Or if it’s opera, in a group in the dark, via the classically trained perfectionist bastion of the operatic princely, and our finest bitchery, donning furs and tuxes. My personal preference.