THE THREEPENNY OPERA
by Bertolt Brecht based on Elizabeth Hauptmann’s German translation of John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera English translation of dialogue by Robert David MacDonald, English translation of lyrics by Jeremy Sams music by Kurt Weill.
Tour to 10 May 2014.
Runs 3 hours. One interval.
All performances include audio description and a creative combination of BSL interpretation and captioning.
Review: Jen Mitchell 25 February.
High-energy, raucous and bang up-to-date production.
The Threepenny Opera (1928) was meant to shock and challenge, and this new adaptation continues to do that, while capturing the original’s spontaneity and exhilaration.
Set in a warehouse sometime around the present day, JJ Peachum controls all the begging in the notorious East End of London. Only this time he is orchestrating a mass rally at the coronation of Charles III.
John Kelly’s narrator sets the tone for the riotous feast that’s to come, blasting out the opening number from his wheelchair. The cast consists actors with a range of disabilities, from Graeae Theatre. Describing themselves as a force for change Graeae aims to challenge preconceptions by placing deaf and disabled actors centre stage. The whole show challenges preconceptions, but the various disabilities pale into insignificance when faced with the immense talents of the performers.
Kurt Weill’s strident, discordant songs are brought smack bang into the 21st century with a change of some lyrics to reflect current events and culture. CiCi Howells hits the right note as Polly, naïve enough to fall for the notorious Macheath, yet with just the right amount of savvy and nerve to take over the running of his ‘business’ when he has to leave.
It’s a true ensemble piece; many of the actors are also talented musicians, making up the on-stage band. There is no weak link. Milton Lopes (Macheath) is a devilish philanderer and Garry Robson a suitably cunning and crafty Peachum.
The duet between Lucy (Natasha Lewis) and Polly, as they argue over which of them Macheath favours, is a treat. Amelia Cavallo sings beautifully as Jenny and Victoria Oruwari is superb as Mrs Peachum.
Mark Haig’s projections, at once shocking and funny, range from the irreverent, through protest to slapstick. Running visual gags at David Cameron’s expense went down well with the audience. Protest banners are hung around the auditorium have slogans recognisable to anyone who has seen the news in the last thirty years.
And this week the cast were involved in a protest outside County Hall aimed at preventing the Playhouse subsidy being slashed.
Brecht would have loved it.
Maisie: Sonia Allori.
Dolly: Sophie Byrne.
Jenny: Amelia Cavallo.
Ned: Stephen Collins.
Nellie: Stacey Ghent.
Jake: Ben Goffe.
Reverend Kimball: Joey Hickman.
Betty: Barbara Hockaday.
Smith: TJ Holmes.
Polly: CiCi Howells.
Tiger Brown: Will Kenning.
Narrator: John Kelly.
Lucy: Natasha Lewis.
Macheath: Milton Lopes.
Mrs Peachum: Victoria Oruwari.
JJ Peachum: Garry Robson.
Filch: Max Runham.
Bob: Joe Vetch.
Directors: Peter Rowe, Jenny Sealey.
Designer: Neil Murray.
Musical Director: Robert Hyman.
Performance Musical Director: Joey Hickman.
Movement: Mark Smith.
Lighting: Malcolm Rippeth.
Sound: Drew Baumohl.
Projections: Mark Haig.
21 Feb- 8 March Tue-Sat 7.45pm Mat Tue, Thu 1.30pm Nottingham Playhouse 0115 9419419 www.nottinghamplayhouse.co.uk
12-22 Mar Mon; Wed-Sat 7.45pm Tue 7pm Mat Wed & Sat 2.30pm New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich 01473 295900 www.wolseytheatre.co.uk
27 Mar-12 Apr Mon-Sat 7.30pm except 27 March 7pm Mat 5, 10 Apr 2pm Birmingham Repertory Theatre 0121 236 4455 www.birmingham-rep.co.uk
24 Apr-10 MayTue-Sat & 28 April 7.30pm Mat Sat 3pm & 1, 8 May 1.30pm West Yorkshire Playhouse Leeds (Quarry Theatre) 0113 213 7700 www.wyp.org.uk