Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Nottingham Playhouse

Written by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill, two of the best known theatre writers and directors of the 1920's and 30's, the play was written to shock, and even after all these years. the play has that shock factor.

The cast is a blend of disabled, deaf, blind and able bodied actors, which evoke a "visual" initial reaction from the audience, but strip away the initial shock of seeing someone disabled, blind or deaf on stage, and this leaves you with an amazingly good cast of actors who in some instances play up to their disability to provoke more reaction from the audience, to very good effect.

OK this out of the way, let's get down to the play. "The Beggar's Opera", is as relevant today, and maybe more relevant when you look at today's economical climate, as it was back when this play was initially produced. This is driven home by the visuals splashed over the screens of the backdrop, again many of the images evoking an intake of breath and continuing the shock effect with the up to date scandals of late.

It's the story of Macheath or Mack The Knife, the villain of the play who went around marrying women, sleeping with his "women", and even the police chief's daughter. Unseen murder's at the hands of Mack's knife, burglary, prostitution, racketeering, the whole lot, who just when you feel has got his comeuppance, escapes from being hanged by the neck after being pardoned by royalty. This insinuates as well that maybe villains like Mackheath may also be involved in higher circles as well as the low life beggars he held control over.

Music wise the songs are performed live by many of the cast playing the instruments on stage, and as the play is called "The Threepenny Opera", the music slants very heavily towards the operatic and there are some excellent operatic voices in the cast. On a personal level, I felt that Milton Lopes, who played the lead role of Macheath didn't have the strongest voice, either theatrically or operatically, but the rawness of his tone held a certain relevance to his character on stage and wasn't unpleasant on the ear.

I absolutely loved Cici Howell's and Victoria Oruwan's singing voices, absolutely gorgeous in their roles as Polly and Mrs Peachum respectively.

There are several reasons to go and see this fun, evocative, emotive play which performed at the Nottingham Playhouse until Saturday 8 March 2014. Don't let the running times of 65 minutes for the first part and 90 minutes for the second half put you off either, because you'll be so wrapped up in the action and music that you won't even notice where the time has gone when the final curtain comes down.

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