(Dominic Maxwell's article appeared in the Times of London January 7, 2010.)

Enron — the smartest play in the room

How did a play about accountancy become the must-see show of 2009? Next week Enron transfers to the West End after rave reviews at its debut in Chichester helped to sell all 22,000 seats of its autumn stint at the Royal Court before the run even began. In April, a production opens on Broadway. In London, it’s already taken more than £1 million in advance bookings — small beer compared with the £40 billion that the Enron energy corporation owed when it went bankrupt in December 2001, but pretty darn impressive for a play about number-crunching in Texas.

But, of course, Enron isn’t just about number-crunching any more than Hamlet is about having to move back in with your mum and stepdad. Lucy Prebble’s epic tragicomedy offers all the glamour of boom times then sets that intoxicated feeling against the inevitable bust. Its director, Rupert Goold, has a reputation as one of our most flamboyant showmen, with his playful reinventions of Macbeth, with Patrick Stewart, and King Lear, with Pete Postlethwaite — as well as the West End revival of Oliver!

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