DOG IN A SUITCASE: Carl Grose
Birmingham Rep and tour
0121 236 4455
Runs: 2h 35m; Rep to and Touring
Review: 30 September 2015, Alexander Ray Edser
Despite bright spots, a bit of a disappointment
I found this reworking of John Gay’s BEGGARS’ OPERA a disappointment. Kneehigh has a reputation for lively and inventive interpretations of stories but increasingly I do wonder if they have passed their sell-by date.
There is a great deal of invention in the production but it doesn’t really gel, it has the feeling of random juxtaposition of clever ideas all included for no other reason than that they are, per se, good ideas. The story-telling is unclear, particularly in the first half and the energy the committed company put into the show disappears like a mist in the morning.
It really is a shame because there is much that is, on its own, excellent. Lovely puppet-work, for instance, most notably Punch and Judy (Sarah Wright), but also a dog, and, towards the end, a host of very funny babies. But the iconic Punch is underused, there is a wonderful scene between Punch and Macheath, integrating Punch fully into the plot, and I ached for more, but it was not to be.
Dominic Marsh is a good Macheath, you can see why the women fall for him, but he fails to convince of his nastier side so the performance has no edge. An excellent comedic performance from Rina Fatania as Mrs Peachum; her ability to throw herself heart and soul into this scurrilous woman is terrific, and it would be grand to see her in a different context.
Mike Shepherd fails to clarify his meaning in the direction. While the surface effects may delight a younger audience, it would be better if they also had something to think about (other than just the loud ending.)
Rina Fatania: Mrs Peachum
James Gow: Musician and Mac’s Gang
Angela Hardie: Polly Peachum
Martin Hyde: Les Peachum
Giles King: Colin Lockit
Patrycja Kujawska: Widow Goodman
Dominic Marsh: Macheath
Justin Radford: Musician and Mac’s Gang
Ian Ross: Musician, Mayor Goodman and Mac’s Gang
Jack Shalloo: Filch and Terry
Sarah Wright: Punch Puppeteer and Mac’s Gang
Director: Mike Shepherd
Writer: Carl Gross
Composer & Music Director: Charles Hazlewood
Choreographer & Assistant Director: Etta Murfitt
Designer: Michael Vale
Lighting Designer: Malcolm Rippeth
Sound Designer: Ian Davies
Associate Sound Designer: Jay Jones
Associate Music Director: Ian Ross
Puppet Director: Sarah Wright