The Good Person of Szechuan by Bertolt Brecht in a new version by Nina Segal. Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith to 13 May 2023. 3 *** . William Russell.

Noisy, full of splendid sight gags, and with a fine central performance from Ami Tredrea as the sex worker exploited by her neighbours who is given a thousand dollars by three visiting gods – they are looking for a good person – and uses it in not quite the way the gods expect Brecht’s messages are as true today as they were 80 years ago. Shen Te, an amiable sex worker exploited by her neighbours, becomes a rampant capitalist, turning eventually into the owner of a cigarette factory called Shui Ta whereupon everyone gets exploited, including the interfering gods.

What was apt in Weimar Germany remains just as trenchant today but here is rather over embellished in Anthony Lau’s endlessly inventive production. By the end of the night when the audience – the house lights having been turned up – is told to go home as there is no more money to keep them on the audience goes swiftly. It has just given the cast a warm reception, but it is one “curtain call” – everyone has had enough of the vey loud music, the entrances through walls of long strips which turn into cigarettes, and down two long slides that have come from a skate park. Brecht’s message survives, however, Ami Tredrea is a constant joy, whether as the well meaning good expoloited sex worker or the exploitative capitalist, and Leo Wan is a moving water seller who introduces the gods to her – and rues the day. But despite all the pleasures and diversions on offer it is a bit of a Chinese meal of an evening – in spite of feeling sated by the end one starts quite soon to feel like needing more.

Ami Tredrea – Shen Te/Shui Ta. Nick Blakeley, Calum Coates, Tom Samuels – the three Gods. Leon Wan – Wang. The rest of the players – Aidan Cheng, Tago Igawa, Suni La, Camille Mallet de Chauny, Louise Mai Newberry.

Anthony Lau – Director. Georgia Lowe – Designer. D.J. Walde – Composer. Jessica Hung Han Yum – Lighting Designer. Alexandra Faye Braithwaite – Sound Designer. Lauren Dyer – Musical Director and Voice Coach. Carrie-Anne Ingrouille – Movement Director. Production Photographs: Manuel Harlan

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