THE BUSKER’S OPERA
by Dougal Irivine.
The Park Theatre to 4 June
Clifton Terrace, London N4 3JP to 4 June 2016.
Tues-Sat 7.30pm. Mat Thu & Sat 3pm.
Runs 2hr 15 mins One interval.
TICKETS: 020 7870 6876
Review: William Russell 7 May.
Tuneful satirical treat based on Gay and Brecht
Tremendous score, witty lyrics, when you can make out the words which is not all of the time, and a first rate cast carry this show based on the Beggar’s Opera to success. This is in spite of the book which is frankly a mess. Confusion reigns throughout as to who is conning who and the fact the events are set against the background of the London Olympics lends it a terribly dated feeling.
The world of the capital has moved on since then. But the cast save the day as they deliver sterling performances and there is no denying that Dougal Irvine’s score is full of great melodies to which they do full justice. His heart, when it comes to the plight of us – the 99percenters – and them – the top one percent who fleece the world – is in the right place. But he needed a better, much clearer story line.
Media mogul, Jeremiah Peachum (David Burt) and a flamboyant Mayor Lockitt (Simon Kane), no guesses who they are based upon, hindred by their respective daughters – Polly (Lauren Samuel) and Lucy (Natasha Cottriall) attempt to exploit the talents of the charismatic folk hero busker and cad Macheath (George Maguire) and his gang of 99percenter beggars for their own capitalist ends.
At times, so confusing is the plotting, it is hard to know what is going on and when Macheath disappears for a bit, mid show, things get no better, although it does give Peachum’s favourite employee Filtch (John McCrea), who longs for Polly, to do a barnstorming solo. George Maguire is a splendidly persuasive rogue, the villains are in safe hands with Mr Burt and Kane, and the two female leads are splendid.
The direction by Lotte Wakeham is slick and Sean Green and Mary Spender, aided occasionally by the cast, provide fine musical backing. The problem is that as social satire it flails around all over the place. However, for all its flaws – and it seems to have been some time in gestation so they should have been dealt with – the Park has stolen a march on the National Theatre which is about to do The Threepenny Opera. As for not making out the words, although everyone is miked, it is a case of music and mike balance, rather than any failure by the cast to articulate.
Jeremiah Peachum: David Burt.
Lucy Lockitt: Natasha Cottriall.
Beggar/99percenter/Reporter: Ishmael Gander.
Mayor Lockitt: Simon Kane.
Macheath: George Maguire.
Filtch/ 99percenter: John McCrea.
Jenny Diver/99percenter/Beggar/Reporter: Maimuna Memon.
Susan/99percenter/Beggard: Giovanna Ryan.
Polly Peachum: Lauren Samuels.
Guitarist: Mary Spender.
Director: Lotte Wakeham.
Musical Director: Sean Green.
Musical staging and Choreography: Luckie Pankhurst.
Set & Costume Design: Anna Kezia Williams.
Lighting Designer: Christopher Nairne.
Sound Designer: Andy Graham.
Assistant Director: Jordan Murphy.