Enron play flops in US as art imitates life

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The Independent Culture

It may still be one of the hottest tickets in London's West End, but on Broadway Enron, the play, has proved a financial disaster and is to close after just 15 performances.

Lucy Prebble's show about the collapse of the American energy company, whose bankruptcy in 2001 shocked the business world, was hobbled at birth by a bad review in the all-powerful New York Times, and finished off by the Tony Awards nominating committee, which confined it to minor categories.

The curtain will fall for the final time at the Broadhurst Theatre on Sunday. The American cast was told the news on Tuesday, hours after Enron failed to get a nod for best play. It was nominated for four Tonys, including for best featured actor and best original score.

British audiences have lapped up the hyper-kinetic take on the fall of Enron, once one of the most respected companies in the US, but which hid its collapsing fortunes through a web of complex frauds.

The tale is vivaciously told through song and dance, and visual metaphor, including the depiction of accounting tricks as businessmen with raptor heads and the Lehman Brothers as a pair of conjoined twins. Written by Ms Prebble and directed by Rupert Goold, the play received ecstatic reviews at the Minerva Theatre in Chichester, before transferring first to the Royal Court and then to the West End, where its sell-out run has now been extended into August.

The Broadway show was given a big marketing push amid high hopes it would repeat its success on this side of the Atlantic, but while it received many good reviews, Ben Brantley of The New York Times called it a "flashy but laboured economics lesson" that was "all show and little substance".