Review: 'Enron' at Hole in the Wall Theater

Anthony J. Piccione

Looking back on the 1990s, many people tend to remember it as a time of technological innovation and relative prosperity. In recent years, some people have even begun referring to it as “the last great decade”. However, this view of the 90s overlooks one of the less positive – as well as one of the most consequential – events to have occurred in this decade: the financial scandal at Enron that proved to be one of the most controversial financial scandals in American history, and ultimately led to the company’s downfall in the early 2000s. In 2009, playwright Lucy Prebble took it upon herself to bring this story to the stage in what may be one of the boldest and most underrated plays of the past decade. Luckily, Connecticut theatergoers now have an opportunity to see this play for themselves.

This weekend marks the Connecticut premiere of this powerful political drama, as Hole in the Wall Theater opens its production of the show this weekend as the finale to its 2014-2015 season. The show is directed by Emily Trudeau(2015 OnStage Critics Award for Best Actress), whose vision and passion for the play shines clearly from the beginning to end of the production. In terms of casting, blocking, visuals and sound effects, this production does an excellent job at retelling the shady events of just a few years ago that occurred at this company. The various elements of the production are put to great use, as they provide both a nice dose of nostalgia for the past, as well as sobering moments that serve as a cautionary tale for those in similar situations today in America. No production could possibly do a better job at using these elements to bring a play such as this to life than this one.

From L to R - Delaney Wilbur, Nathan Rumney, Ryan Wantroba and Johnson Flucker in ENRON at Hole in the Wall Theater - July 2015

From L to R - Delaney Wilbur, Nathan Rumney, Ryan Wantroba and Johnson Flucker in ENRON at Hole in the Wall Theater - July 2015

The usage of various technical elements in this show proves to be quite impressive, especially given the heavy amount of tech that a show such as this demands. The sets – built to look like an Enron building and office – are very well-designed, and help make the show more visually impressive. The costumes of the characters are another impressive feature, with some helping to make people look exactly like the real-life people that they portray and others – notably the dinosaur masks used later in the show – helping to add an amusing bit of comic relief to an otherwise serious political drama. Perhaps the most notable technical highlight in the show is the excellent usage of video projections, which are used to set the tone and atmosphere for the production with not just old clips of news reports and Enron commercials, but also to invoke memories of notable historical and cultural events from the time period in which the play takes place. These include – but are not limited to – the Monica Lewinsky scandal, the controversial election of George W. Bush in 2000, and even a trio of women doing the Macarena. (For all the kids out there reading this, the Macarena was pretty much the Harlem Shake/Gangnam Style of the 90s.) All in all, the technical aspects of the show do a very fine job at taking the audience back to the 90s and into the dark depths of the corporate world in which the play takes place.

Of course, the most noteworthy aspect of this production is the cast that brings the show to life. The show features over a dozen talented local actors who bring to life many of the central individuals involved in the Enron scandal. In the lead role is Johnson Flucker, who portrays the corrupt CEO Jeff Skilling. Mr. Flucker turns in an excellent performance that brilliantly shows Skilling to be both the greedy crook and the highly-complicated human being that he is. Portraying the role of Andy Fastow is Nathan Rumney, whose performance proves to be both highly compelling and villainous. Jim Byrne Jr. does a splendid job portraying the role of Ken Lay, while Rebecca Meakin turns in a solid performance as Jeff’s favorite co-worker Claudia Rowe. Rounding out the rest of the cast is Mary Roane, Ryan Thomas, Ryan Wantroba, Stephanie Chernoff, Steve Azzaro, Luca Gianelli, Enrico DelGiacomo, Myla Gianelli, Christina Gianelli, Neve Stanziale, Paul Keuhn, Doug McCarthy, Charlie Williams & Delaney Wilbur.Rebecca Meakin, Mary Roane, Ryan Thomas, Ryan Wantroba, Johnson Flucker, Nathan Rumney, Jim Byrne , Stephanie Chernoff, Steve Azzaro, Luca Gianelli, Enrico DelGiacomo, Myla Gianelli, Christina Gianelli, Neve Stanziale, Paul Keuhn, Doug McCarthy, Charlie Williams & Delaney WilburRebecca Meakin, Mary Roane, Ryan Thomas, Ryan Wantroba, Johnson Flucker, Nathan Rumney, Jim Byrne , Stephanie Chernoff, Steve Azzaro, Luca Gianelli, Enrico DelGiacomo, Myla Gianelli, Christina Gianelli, Neve Stanziale, Paul Keuhn, Doug McCarthy, Charlie Williams & Delaney WilburRebecca Meakin, Mary Roane, Ryan Thomas, Ryan Wantroba, Johnson Flucker, Nathan Rumney, Jim Byrne , Stephanie Chernoff, Steve Azzaro, Luca Gianelli, Enrico DelGiacomo, Myla Gianelli, Christina Gianelli, Neve Stanziale, Paul Keuhn, Doug McCarthy, Charlie Williams & Delaney Wilbur. 

Kristen Bennett, Ryan Thomas, Michael Vernon Davis and Ryan Wantroba in ENRON at Hole in the Wall Theater - July 2015

Kristen Bennett, Ryan Thomas, Michael Vernon Davis and Ryan Wantroba in ENRON at Hole in the Wall Theater - July 2015

Overall, this production proves to be emotionally powerful, intellectually stimulating and one of the boldest productions that I’ve seen from a community theatre group here in Connecticut. Certainly worth watching for anyone who enjoys a rare drama that is not only entertaining, but also tackles major political and economic issues that are still relevant today in 2015. The show has a wonderful cast and a great story to tell, and is highly recommended for anyone who loves great, thought-provoking theatre that leaves you talking after the show ends.

Enron runs at Hole in the Wall Theater from July 17th to August 8th. For more information, please visit www.hitw.org.

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