Financial crisis seems to bring out the best in British theatre. Just ask the director currently heading a revolution in intellectual showmanshipby Michael Coveney / August 27, 2009 / Leave a comment
Published in September 2009 issue of Prospect Magazine
Royal Court Theatre, 17th September-7th November, Tel: 020 7565 5000
Also on the theatre: Mary Fitzgerald’s web exclusive article on the Edinburgh festivals
This is turning out to be one of best years in London theatre for ages. Significant dramas about climate change, racism and political disaffection are hitting the stage with almost unseemly regularity. Suddenly, at a time of political anxiety and economic recession, the theatre has renewed its ancient function as a sounding board in society.
The most notable success of all is Enron, a thrilling new play about the collapse of America’s seventh largest corporation in 2001. Combining the talents of Britain’s hottest new stage director, Rupert Goold, with a long overdue return to large-scale epic adventures in the Jacobean and Brechtian styles, Enron proves that there’s no business like big business in show business.
“It’s an exciting time,” says the 38-year-old Goold, who runs Headlong, the touring outfit that developed Enron at the Chichester Festival Theatre (where it was seen in July and August) and the Royal Court in London (where it opens this September). “People want to see their lives coming back at them. We wanted to do something complex and contemporary, and also something of high theatrical voltage, to catch this current mood.” Twenty-eight-year-old playwright Lucy Prebble, whose father ran a multinational software company and whose siblings both work for big consultancy firms, first pitched Enron as a musical but, says Goold, “with all of her lyrics the show would have lasted for ever, so we never got the music written.”