Enron (Theatre Royal Newcastle, November 2010) and The Apprentice (BBC1)

Lucy Prebble’s play, Enron, utilises visual imagery from fantasy fiction to tell the story of the collapse of the American energy company Enron.  Not knowing much about the Fantasy genre, I was still able to recognise that the imagery comes from sources  such as Marvel Comics,  Star Wars and children’s cartoons.  For example, Chief Financial Officer Andy Fastow (Paul Chahidi) seems to turn into a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. There are also the three blind mice representing the board and lizard like creators (raptors) working as the hedge companies, which are set up to hide/consume the debt.  If felt as if instead of progress the characters in the play were regressing back to a prehistoric era.  There is even a reference to Jurassic Park.    There’s a really interesting image of  Fastow on the treadmill, and falling off, but this becomes ironical because  he is energised by being sent down to the basement where he doesn’t have to interact with people, and is constantly trying to find ways to hide the company’s debt.

In the play, there is also the theme of if you work hard you can play hard, but the irony is that it is all playing.  One of the ideas that is emphasised  is that Enron thought that they were employing the brightest graduates and this made me think a little bit about The Apprentice. Having watched each series of The Apprentice, except the first one, I am convinced that instead of selecting the brightest applicants, the programme’s producers are selecting some candidates who don’t really get it.  What I can’t understand is if any of the contestants had watched the programme in the past they would have been able to devise some strategies based on previous programmes. When selling the place, product, promotion, and price are some of the key things to think about but in the clothes episode these things seemed beyond some of the contestants. I realise that the programme is edited in a particular way to take the audience down certain paths and to believe a particular narrative, but the contestants seem to provide lots of opportunities to look like they just haven’t a clue. Lord Sugar has this thing which is are the contestants a one trick pony ie sales people?  However, that’s all they seem to do is sell.

The traders at Enron were also selling, but they were not sure what they were actually selling in a strange fantasy world created by those running the company.


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