It’s a raptor market
Sacramento, CA 95816
Remember California’s rolling blackouts? If so, you’ll also remember the company behind them: Enron, the supersmart investors who made money by forecasting worth—and eventually produced some of the worst corporate criminals in history.
Stephanie Gularte directs Capital Stage’s production of Lucy Prebble’s shocking tale of the company’s rise and fall, Enron. The Texas-based energy company creates wealth and fame in the “projected worth” of its deals—a dodgy accounting trick simply explained in the play—which the stock market laps up. When Enron executives realize they have no actual profits or assets to back their projected worth, they set up a second business that “eats” the debt to keep Enron’s stock prices high. Eventually, Enron goes bankrupt; thousands lose their jobs and savings.
Jonathan Rhys Williams is lead scuzzball Jeffrey Skilling, Enron’s president and COO. His chilling performance embodies the sickening, power-hungry “innovator.” Aaron Wilton takes on the role of Andy Fastow, Enron’s pivotal CFO, while Gary S. Martinez is Ken Lay, the CEO who died before going to prison. Shannon Mahoney is Claudia Roe, a composite character representing all the women Skilling screwed over to steal big; she does double-duty as the choreographer.
The performances are a testament to what happens to influential, corrupt people behind closed doors, and they keep the audience on the edge of its seat.
The ensemble (Rob August, Lucinda Hitchcock Cone, Andrew J. Perez, Janey Pintar, Alexandra Ralph, Michael Stevenson and Brian Watson) bears a heavy load. Whether they’re stymied analysts or cutthroat stock traders, the cast does well—most especially when they’re velociraptors in business suits.
Did he say “velociraptors in business suits”? Yes, he did.
Steve Decker’s lighting meets Stephen C. Jones’ stage, and the combination makes the intense relationships pop, setting the high-end office in a high-end club scene. Original music by Gregg Coffin takes elements of ’90s club remixes for time and perspective, but also throws in a barbershop quartet and a riff that sounds like The B-52’s.
Capital Stage certainly flashes the bankroll needed to produce this play, and every dollar is well-spent. The whole set is lit to create a ravelike atmosphere that emits a red or blue glow—think EnTRON. It’s a spectacle, with constant video interludes that, luckily, don’t interrupt the play’s story and characters.
Prebble’s script is based on real recordings and documents, plus things you’ll remember from news reports. Enron’s story bears repeating; what Skilling and his crew began is still happening, and until we put a stop to it, Enron’s raptors are waiting somewhere to devour the economy.