Enroncore!

Almost ten years after its collapse, Enron is back as a morality play on Broadway. Just in time for Jeff Skilling’s bid for a new trial.

A little over halfway through the new play Enron, the character based on Jeff Skilling declares, “I hate government because I know these guys … and let me tell you, the weakest, most ignorant, most drunken f—ing incompetents went to work for the U.S. government. Because they weren’t smart enough for the private sector.” The government hacks who make the rules for the energy market are not deserving of his respect. “Why should we look at the lazy regulations they’ve put in place by committee and go, ‘Yeah, you’re bad at your jobs, fine, we’ll ignore that and just be bad at ours too.’ Who do you think is gonna win in the end?! The greedy or the inept?!”

Since the whole world is hungry to lay the blame for the financial meltdown at the feet of any convenient target, it’s not surprising that the play was a smash hit in London last season and is now opening to great fanfare on Broadway. Back in 2002, when I was working on an Enron book with Sherron “Whistle-blower” Watkins, I used to ask everyone the same question: Was Enron an anomaly in or a paradigm for the corporate world? Now, of course, we have the answer, and it is one that the play’s producers are eagerly selling. “There was a warning,” their publicity materials intone. “And its name was Enron.”

The play, which the Times of London cheered with uncharacteristic gusto as “nimble, funny, clear-eyed, inventive, informative, exhilarating and then sobering,” adheres to the now accepted narrative: A company run by geniuses gets big, then bigger, then too big for its britches, then collapses, devastating everyone involved. Bravo! Playwright Lucy Prebble focuses on four major players—Ken Lay, the company’s founder and CEO; Skilling, Lay’s successor, who envisioned and executed Enron’s transition from a pipeline company to a virtual company; CFO Andy Fastow; and executive Rebecca Mark, who managed the company’s massive foreign construction projects and was lucky enough to get

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