BEGGARS’ OPERA, 4Star****, London, To 03 12 16

by John Gay
adapted by Ricky Dukes.
4Stars ****

The Brockley Jack Studio Theatre, 410 Brockley Road, London SE4 2DH to 3 December 2016.
Tues- Sat 7.45pm.
Runs 1hr 20 mins No interval

TICKETS: 0333 666 3366.
Review: William Russell 10 November.

Gay’s the word – a musical romp.
As ever Lazarus, a company which always take risks, is at its best when performing as an ensemble and this bright, amusing version of John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera is no exception. The action is strictly choreographed and the cast of ten move round the stage at speed weaving intricate patterns to effect.

As actors they are fine, as singers less so – one or two voices are quite weak and this is a small auditorium with good acoustics. Nor does the version of the play devised by director Ricky Dukes turn out to be a particularly biting satire on the state of the world today. It makes its points effectively enough, however, and there is a lot to enjoy.

The music by Bobby Locke and Chris Drohan is tuneful, if not Weill, and one does not leave humming anything.

As director Dukes has secured good performances all round, although his decision to play the early scenes involving the Peachums with the sound of water dripping in the background is a mistake. It does not set the scene, let alone suggest some thieves’ kitchen, but simply becomes annoying. It also distracts from a hilarious performance by Natalie Barker channelling Hyacinth Bucket as Mrs Peachum which dominates this section of the play.

As the not quite a gentleman highwayman Macheath Sherwood Alexander, while not the dashing rogue or gentleman of the sword one expects, creates a perkyTeddy Boy figure who ingratiates himself with the audience to in fine style. That Lockit, father of one of the two women Macheath is married to, should be played by a woman is fine; there is no reason why, the events taking place today, this should not be so. But it would have been better to stop calling the character Brother Lockit because Josie Mills, rather good, is not playing a man.

The ending devised by Dukes comes as a surprise – the gallows for Macheath not being an option – and the show, although a potted version of the three act original and played straight through, is by any standards another feather in the company’s cap.

Polly Peachum: Michaela Bennison.
Lucy Lockit: Elizabeth Hollingshead.
Mr Peachum: David Jay Douglas.
Mrs Peachum: Natalie Barker.
Lockit: Josie Mills.
Macheath: Sherwood Alexander.
Fitch: Louis Rayneau.
Matt of the Mint: Alasdair Melrose.
Jennny: Rachel Kelly.
Mrs Trapes: Shalana Serafina.
All other roles played by the company.

Director: Ricky Dukes.
Designer: Sorcha Corcoran.
Lighting Design: Stuart Glover.
Musical Direction: Dominic Gee-Burch.
Dramaturg/additional text: Sara Reimers.
Assistant Director: John King.

2016-11-12 20:14:21

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