Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Audit Intrigue Comes to New York Stage

An auditor finds discrepancies in the statements of a major client that point to fraud. When he alerts his team, each acts to protect himself or herself from the emerging scandal. By the end, the initially idealistic whistleblower has made a triumphal about-face, leapfrogging his Machiavellian colleagues and leaving them in the dust.

A real-life snippet from the Enron saga? No. It's the plot of Professional Skepticism, an award-winning play that's set for a two-week off-Broadway run beginning June 28 after successful productions in Boston and South Carolina.

"Professional Skepticism" was first produced in 2000, well before the exposures of fraud at Enron, WorldCom and other Fortune 500 companies transformed CPA work into a glamour profession (well, sort of). Its author is a real-life CPA named James Rasheed. The 40-year-old has a Master's degree in playwriting and has produced a number of other works, but continues to work as a bank auditor.

Along with the ageless themes of betrayal, sexual intrigue, and a good bit of humor, reviews from its Boston-area run indicate that Professional Skepticism offers up something less often found in works of popular culture: genuine insight into the problems auditors face, in a way that's accessible to the general public.

The Boston Globe wrote:

Rasheed sets forth the basic issues of a corporate audit with such clarity and succinctness that even the mathematically challenged can understand them.

The play's title itself is a technical phrase well-known to auditors. It refers to a suspicious attitude that auditors are supposed to adopt when there is a high risk of material misstatements or other risks that cast doubt on the validity of audit evidence.

The Zootopia Theatre Company production of "Professional Skepticism" is scheduled to run June 28 to July 15 at New York's Abingdon Theatre Arts Complex.

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