I saw a
spine-tingling show in a theatre, the first for many moons. In
my experience you have to sit through nine evenings of tedium and mediocrity
for every one of such enchantment. But that one in ten just about makes it
vertebrae were caused by the outstanding skills of a joint Russian and German
cast at Weimar National Theatre in the Threepenny
Opera (Dreigroschenoper) by Kurt
Weill, Bertolt Brecht and (please excuse me while I tastelessly add the name of
the non-Y-Chromosome bearer) ELIZABETH HAUPTMANN. Bert preferred not to make it
too public that she had co-written the libretto as well as providing for all
three of them the German translation of John Gay’s 18th-century Beggar’s Opera. I wonder if it was
Hauptmann who added phrases from Plautus’ comedy Trinummus (“Three-Penny” Comedy)
and came up with the German title accordingly.
|Hauptmann, 'the third man'|
Central and Eastern Europe are still trained to communicate with their
voices and bodies in ways that make their equivalents further west look
amateurish: they are gymnasts, dancers, mime artists, athletes, ventriloquists,
and the best of them can actually forget their own egos and career trajectories
long enough to deliver a seamless ensemble piece. As the crooks, beggars, and
whores of Old London, this cast worked their socks off.
|1931 Movie of Dreigroschenoper|
The Entfremdung idea in epic theatre, of
course, is that you don’t get emotionally involved. You are supposed to be
intellectually edified and become a critic of capitalism. I obediently spent
the entire evening trying hard not to cry when Polly Peachum found out about rival Lucy’s
(fake) pregnancy, and Mac the Knife got sentenced to death. (Mackie Messer doesn’t sound as scarey, of
course). But it was touch-and-go during Pirate Jenny and Mac’s nostalgic tango
as they remembered love in the bordello.
show, one of the polite local beggars asked me if I had 50
Pfennigs, or Groschen, or what are now called cents, since he was hungry.
Acutely conscious that I had just spent more than one hundred times that amount
on three hours in a theatre Criticising Capitalism, I gave him a €5 note. He
looked mortifed, fumbled in his pockets and actually
apologised because he had insufficient funds to give me €4.50 change (which I had not asked for and did not want). I do not know whether it was the Alienation
Effect or the reality of street life in 2013 which was responsible, but I did
not get much sleep that night.
|Kurt & Bertolt. No gnomesses for sale to represent Elizabeth|
Post a Comment