"ENRON" (TimeLine Theatre): Fuel-Injected Showcase of Corporate Greed

"ENRON" (TimeLine Theatre):  Fuel-Injected Showcase of Corporate Greed

#29.  At work, I write a check request and the vendor gets paid.  I don’t worry about it.  I anticipated the expense.  I’ve seen the monthly statement.  The agency is on budget.  And now this money will be disbursed.  At the end of the fiscal year, our auditors will come in and review the paperwork for that transaction.  If the documentation doesn’t justify it, I will be questioned.  It doesn’t matter if the amount is $20 or $2000.  The same protocol is followed.  It’s hard to imagine how a company can pretend to have millions of dollars over several years.  

TimeLine Theatre presents the Chicago premiere of ENRON.  THE legendary corporate scandal is center stage.  In the 1990’s, Enron boasted inflated earnings.  A charismatic Jeffrey Skilling led the practice of realizing profits early.  Through creative accounting, the revenue continued to be inflated.  Andrew Fastow devised the “Raptor” system to hedge investments backed by Enron stock.  It wasn’t just a two man operation. The CEO, Board, auditors, and lawyers approved the new business practice. Political and foreign relations joined in the make-believe circus. And the world watched as Enron became a shining model of success.  Then in 2001, the bubble burst.  ENRON is a fuel-injected showcase of corporate greed.   

Playwright Lucy Prebble almost wrote ‘The Dummies Guide to Economics.’  Prebble’s taught me practical application of economic theories.   Her script enlightened me on the series of events that led to Enron’s demise.  In a fable-like way, Prebble makes characters characters.  The Board is three blind mice.  Arthur Andersen is a ventriloquist and dummy.  The lawyers are blindfolded justice statues.  And the ‘Raptor‘ system is…well, raptors.  Under the direction of Rachel Rockwell, scene transitions and ensemble scenes are choreographed with creative whimsy.  Imaginative actions and projected images (Mike Tutaj) keep the story fluid and engaging.  After all, ENRON is about economics and could be a yawn-fest.  And even though some of the monologues could have been clipped down, the play is riveting.  

At the backbone of the story is Bret Tuomi (Skilling).  Tuomi brings a real humanity to his character.  The arrogance is there but there’s an underlying earnestness.  Tuomi makes Skilling a likable guy who can’t believe his initiative failed.  Tuomi demonstrates Skilling’s denial not as deception, more as genuine surprise.  His nemesis Amy Matheny (Claudia) is marvelous as a powerful and power-hungry business woman. Matheny gets extra points for kicking ass in insanely high heels.  Under Rockwell’s direction, corruption takes company buy-in. The entire ensemble comes together to illustrate business as unusual.  This ENRON team is a sound investment.  They succeed in giving the people their money’s worth.

Production photograph courtesy of Lara Goetsch.                   

 Running Time:  Two hours and twenty-five minutes includes an intermission

At TimeLine Theatre, 615 W. Wellington 

Written by Lucy Prebble

Directed by Rachel Rockwell

Wednesdays, Thursdays at 7:30pm

Fridays at 8pm

Saturdays at 4pm and 8pm

Sundays at 2pm 

Thru April 15th 

Buy Tickets www.timelinetheatre.com

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