Thursday, November 10, 2011

Enron - Lucy Prebble (Audio)

This audiobook was my very first opportunity to be a "Solid Gold Reviewer" through Audiobook Jukebox.  Doesn't that sound cool?  Makes me want to put on my gold lame jumpsuit and do a dance for you.  I had originally requested to review this audio because I've always been fascinated with the disaster that was Enron, being someone intimately familiar with the slippery slope of corporate greed.  I loved the documentary "The Smartest Guys in the Room", and I'm always open to learn more. 

But this was not at all what I was expecting.  In my fully-realized audio world, I have never listened to a theater production, but that is what this was.  I was taken aback at first, but then became invested.  Let me tell you a little about what you should expect to hear:

Synopsis:  Lucy Prebble is a young (only 30), edgy, British playwright who has constructed a stage production of the Enron scandal that originally debuted in London to sold-out crowds.  It came over the pond to Broadway a year later, only to be slammed by the New York Times and quickly shut down.  Nevertheless, it went on to earn various awards, and has now been performed by the L.A. Theater Works in front of a live audience and made into an audio book.

From a layman's viewpoint, Prebble has taken all the complicated details of Enron's failings (mark-to-market accounting, market trading and hedging, playing the shell game with debt, and manipulating Wall Street for the best stock ratings), and making it understandable to everyone.  And at the same time, making it entertaining and amusing.  And shocking.  At one point, Prebble uses the analogy of Raptors, hiding in Enron's basement, cared for by the CFO, eating the dollar bills that are the company's debt. They are hungry, they want fed, and eventually they escape because Raptors ultimately cannot be contained.

For an hour and a half, at the hands of a full cast, prepare yourself for a crash course in all things corrupt.  Prepare for the ultimate cautionary tale of bad karma (or Raptors) biting you in the ass.  Prepare to be entertained.

My thoughts:  As I said before, I was taken aback when I first started listening to this production.  It was unnerving to be LISTENING to a stage production, but unable to see it.  The actors were doing things, and I could only guess by their words what was occurring.  (Well, there was one scene where two employees of Enron were getting it on at the office at night...I didn't need to see that!)

But like all things audio, I did get used to it, and I began to enjoy it.  I thought Prebble's interpretation of the Enron scandal was clever and nicely boiled down to the pertinent facts.  While I did laugh out loud on many occasions, Prebble was able to instill moments of levity, which I thought was only appropriate.  Many people lost their life savings because of these pompous, narcissistic goons, and should be appreciated.

A quick word of caution - foul language ahoy.  Don't listen when your kids are in the car.

I've read that the L.A. Theater Works produces other audios of the classics like Oscar Wilde, Shakespeare, and Chekov.  Since I would consider this experience a success, I'll look forward to experimenting with this format more often.

4 out of 5 stars             


bermudaonion said...

Hm, I'm not sure about listening to a theater production - this may not be for me.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

Yes, listening to a theater production might be weird for me too. But more importantly, I could not listen to everything about Enron without getting too furious!

caite said...

this seems beyond the limits of my audio listening.

...and I am so distracted by that whole gold lame jumpsuit image.

Zibilee said...

I, too, want to see the gold lame jumpsuit dance. I don't know much about the Enron scandal because I have purposely avoided it. All I know is that it would make me really mad to find out what these people have done, and so I have learned a glancing bit and then stayed away. But this does sound interesting, and I might need to check it out. Though I am hopelessly out of the loop when it comes to things like this, I can agree when you call them corporate goons!

Unknown said...

It seems a bit weird to listen to the stage production. I love it when the books are specially adapted for radio with sound effects, but I think I'd be worried I was missing things with this - like listening to the TV from another room. hhhmmm. Not sure about this one.

Unknown said...

I don't really see why people would hesitate to listen to a stage production. Especially if it's a production you won't get the opportunity to see. I've not hear this one, but L.A. Theatre works puts out regular podcast versions of their stage productions. You can subscribe to them for free on iTunes. It's not liked being in the theatre, I'll grant you, but they are still good listens.

I've seen blind people in the audience at the theatre.

Have you ever checked out the BBC's full cast productions? They have some excellent ones, mostly classic literature. I can get C.J. to listen to those on long car trips. Though we did have to pull over and stop the car for a minute towards the end of David Copperfield. Boy, can Dickens ever write a good death scene. Sheesh.

Ti said...

I would go nuts listening to a theater production. So much is done through action.

I love the images you paint when you post these reviews. Gold Lame?? Jumpsuit?? Laughing over here.

Julie P. said...

Certainly sounds like a unique listening experience. For someone like me who isn't exactly comfortable with audio, this might prove to be a challenge.

Heidenkind said...

I'm still leery of theater-ish audiobooks like this. Maybe someday...

Jenners said...

The Solid Gold Reviewer thing gave me a chuckle. I think you need to get yourself a suit of some kind … remember the Solid Gold Dancers??!!

This would be weird to listen to a theater production. It would seem that you'd be missing a key aspect of it. But you're a supertalented audio listener.

Kathleen said...

I'd love to learn more about the Enron debacle and this seems an entertaining way to do it.