The Unbearable Banishment: What I’d take you to see if you came to NYC

Friday, April 23, 2010

What I’d take you to see if you came to NYC

I just came out of one of the finest plays I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen quite a few. Some beautiful geniuses in London took the most unlikely, dry subject and turned it into a compelling evening. Someone had the questionable idea to write a play about the rise and collapse of Enron. Well, it’s a masterpiece. One for the ages. Fetching to watch, expertly acted, deeply interesting and relevant for today.

Declaring something as the “best” is, of course, purely subjective. But, for me, this show came along at the exact right moment. I am down on the investment banking industry I spent my career in and have worked with people who were similar to the sociopaths portrayed in this play. But even if you care not a whit about finance or Wall Street shenanigans, Enron is worth seeing because it's a visual feast and a master class in drama and humor. (Yes, it's very funny.)

It helps that I did some homework beforehand. It always does. My head is an empty vessel that needs to be filled. Anytime I see a Shakespeare play, I jam the Cliff Notes version the week of the show. Likewise, for Enron, I recently saw the documentary Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room and it enhanced my experience. The more you carry into a theater, the more you take away.

The dry business of mark-to-market investing is made palpable by actors dressed as three blind mice, red-eyed raptors, neon lightsaber-wielding Jedis, a barber shop quartet (they're from a rating agency!) and two Lehman Brothers employees who are hysterically portrayed as in-lockstep Siamese twins who speak in high-pitch sing-songy voices. It’s surreal. The stage design is smart and the use of multimedia is brilliant. Initially, I panicked at its 2:30 length but I’d gladly sit through it again. Perhaps I will.

Jason, I’m going to have to insist that you watch The Smartest Guys in the Room and then try to beg, borrow or steal a ticket to this show. It’s an unforgettable evening. You should consider yourself lucky that it’s within your geographic reach.



Blogger mapstew said...

You're gonna have a lot of visitors one of these days! :¬)

April 23, 2010 at 8:33 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Map: Yeah, I got a lot of threats but nobody ever follows-through.

April 23, 2010 at 9:08 AM  
Blogger Barlinnie said...

Map, let's take him up on the offer, I'll pay.... fancy the trip?

April 23, 2010 at 9:56 AM  
Blogger savannah said...

if jimmy and map show up in nyc, i'll for damn sure be there, sugar! of course, the MITM & i have been talking about a quick getaway weekend soon and i'm guessing that'll happen first!

re the play *sigh* we may eat well down here, sugar, but i'd trade a week of dinners for a chance to sit in a real theater again for just one show!


April 23, 2010 at 11:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sounds fabulous! only thing missing is puppets, but that's been done!

i'll get there - just a question of when. but if the lads from Glasgow are heading your way? i'll be there to buy the black pints...

April 23, 2010 at 11:55 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Jimmy: I don't know what your feelings are about theater but this is as good a representation as any I've seen.

Savannah: You're coming too! Fabulous. What a motley crew we'll make. Note to Mrs. Wife: we may need to open up the futon in the office.

Daisy: I have good news! There IS a puppet! A guy who represents crooked accounting firm Arthur Anderson has a puppet on his lap who spews all the illegal activities the firms are up to. The Anderson employee is constantly putting his hand over the puppet's mouth to shut it up. It's HILARIOUS!

April 23, 2010 at 12:44 PM  
Blogger Here In Franklin said...

I saw Smartest Guys... a few weeks ago and thought it was great. But man, did it piss me off.

April 23, 2010 at 1:13 PM  
Blogger kyknoord said...

I'm sure a play about my industry would be pretty surreal too. Not sure I'd be able to watch it, though.

April 23, 2010 at 1:28 PM  
Blogger mapstew said...

Jimmy; Do ya think NYC could handle the BOTH of us? At the one time! Would there be enough Guinness? So many questions! :¬)

April 23, 2010 at 11:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

enron + puppets? i'm. there.

oh, and map? i got the pints. will drop ship a few additional cases in case NYC comes up short...

dibs on the futon.

April 24, 2010 at 12:37 AM  
Anonymous nursemyra said...

I saw that doco a while back, it was excellent.

hey since you guys are talking about NYC, can you hold off until 2011? With daisyfae and I meeting in Greece this June, I'll have to wait a whole year before I can do a trip stateside

We could organise a little bloggers convention of our own.....?

April 24, 2010 at 5:54 AM  
Blogger savannah said...

let's get this party started! xoxoxo

April 24, 2010 at 8:21 AM  
Anonymous Rob said...

I haven't seen the documentary in full yet, but I've ordered it from the library.

Interestingly, Max Keiser is raising money for a documentary titled "Where's Kenny-boy?", premised on a notion that Ken Lay did not die but, rather, fled to South America.

"False Profits"? These guys were crooks, pure and simple. They came to Alberta in the early 2000's when the provincial government here had the brainwave to deregulate the utilities. They managed to manipulate the electricity market to the point that our costs were getting close to $0.20/kWh (the gov't capped it at $0.11/kWh to prevent riots) and natural gas hit nearly $20/GJ.

I'm amazed that the Enron story has been turned into a play. Hopefully the motive is to educate the otherwise blissfully ignorant masses.

April 24, 2010 at 10:30 AM  
Blogger Here In Franklin said...

There was a long interview with the writer on NPR's Marketplace last night. Very interesting.

April 24, 2010 at 12:52 PM  
Anonymous Mrs. Wife said...

All I ask for is one week notice and I'll gladly put up anyone who dares to visit.

April 24, 2010 at 3:46 PM  
Anonymous nursemyra said...

Ok Mrs Wife, can I book in for June or July in 2011?

April 25, 2010 at 5:53 AM  
Anonymous RubyTwoShoes said...

Ahh, well its certainly not bloody in my geographic reach! But I enjoyed the low down in any case, oh NY, NY, one day....

April 25, 2010 at 6:54 AM  
Blogger Ellie said...

I saw an ad for it in London. Just the ad made me chuckle. I like the idea.

April 25, 2010 at 11:32 AM  
Blogger Barlinnie said...

I'm no sure about theater my friend, but I'll be putting on a little oul show of my own with the Map man and the drink going down.

Best order another barrel, I have a terrible thirst coming on.

April 25, 2010 at 2:10 PM  
Blogger Leah said...

I see a bloggers' convention in the works. It would be fun, no? Between us, UB, we could certainly show them a good time.

April 25, 2010 at 6:51 PM  

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