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Review: Enron, Northern Stage, Newcastle

Alexe Gunne reviews Lucy Prebble's hit play about shady corporate deals forms part of Northumbria University drama showcase

****
Northern Stage
Northern Stage

As a Northumbria University graduate, I’ve known my fair share of extremely talented undergraduates who are passionate about their chosen line of work.

Enron, performed by a cast of students and directed by Mark Calvert and Emma Roxburgh, clearly demonstrates this passion.

Third year Northumbria University performing arts students seamlessly performed Lucy Prebble’s award-winning play about a financial scandal.

Set during the monetary chaos of the 1990s, it tells the outlandish tale of the rapid rise and subsequent crash of energy and commodities company Enron from the perspective of greedy corporates and money-blind employees.

Characters were played by up to three students, each setting the scene through engaging anecdotes. The cast members complemented each other during quick-paced exchanges and frenzied bouts of stock-market dealings.

Unexpected biting humour and a pervasive sense of monetary hunger enthralled the audience, while intermittent songs and structured routines decorated the landscape of suits and office chairs.

Montages of popular culture clips from the decade played alongside scrolling stock market figures, encapsulating the widely-held feeling of 1990s America – that people who would change the world would do so in corporate boardrooms.

Predatory raptors signifying the special-purpose “entities”, created to cover up the company’s debt, crept eerily around the stage, swallowing invoices and negative figures.

The truth of Enron’s black box dealings emerge eventually and the company crumbles, as do each of the characters caught in spirals of decreasing stock prices and debt.

This evening there’s a chance to see a second play by the performing arts students, The Fall by Lilia Rubin, directed by Jane Arnfield.

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