Review: Threepenny Opera at Nottingham Playhouse

ThreePenny2

Nothing quite prepared us for the scene that greeted us when we entered Nottingham Playhouse for a performance of Brecht and Weill’s classic musical tale The Threepenny Opera last week. Around the auditorium protest banners hung from the walls and the ripped, red curtain seemed to be a parody of the formal velvet curtain that we traditionally associate with the theatre.

It is set in the seedy, gangland underworld of Soho, against the backdrop of an industrial warehouse. JJ Peachum (played by Garry Robson) and his wife (played by Victoria Oruwari) run a rather dubious operation in which they send poor folks out to beg money from the rich. Despite his own shortcomings, Peachum is horrified when he learns that his daughter is planning to marry the notorious gang leader Macheath (‘Mack the Knife’) and he hatches a plan to thwart their relationship.

A scene from The Threepenny Opera.

A scene from The Threepenny Opera.

Brecht intended his work to be a satire on the capitalist system but the cast of this production use it chiefly as a way of highlighting society’s perceptions around disability and wider questions about our value system. Starring both disabled and able-bodied actors, it was deliberately confrontational. In true Brechtian style it also challenges our idea of what a theatrical performance should be. The morally-bankrupt characters evoke little sympathy which forces us to question their actions while the defiant narrator – played by John Kelly – provides an insightful commentary which stops us simply sitting back and allowing the story to wash over us.

Despite the difficult subjects tackled the play was also very enjoyable. The live jazz band was glorious and the actors were accomplished performers who really brought their characters to life. What stood out for me was the integration of BSL interpretation and surtitles in this fully accessible production. Rather than them simply being an ‘add-on’ the sign language interpreter added flair and creativity to the performance while the surtitles formed part of the backdrop.

The Threepenny Opera is a collaboration between Nottingham Playhouse, Graeae Theatre Company, Birmingham Repertory Theatre, New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich and West Yorkshire Playhouse and it runs until Saturday.

Have you seen the show? What did you think? Join in the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #3popera.

Posted on 03 March 2014
Featured author: Catherine Allen Marketing Assistant

Arts fan, runner and cyclist who has been living in Nottingham for more than a decade. Loves real ale, craft beer, good food, travelling and sausage dogs.

Comments (0)

Post a comment

Our monthly pick

Nottingham We Dig The Castle

We Dig The Castle: Unearthing Nottingham’s Archaeological Secrets Part Two

This blog is the second instalment of a two part blog. To read part one click here. Back in July I visited Nottingham Castle to find out more about the annual archaeological excavation ‘We Dig The Castle’. A partnership project between Trent & Peak Archaeology, Nottingham City Council and Historic England, this excellent scheme invites volunteers…

Your favourite places

Featured authors

  • Sarah Louise

    A very lucky marketeer in her dream job. Passionate about all things Nottinghamshire and firmly believes if you work really hard and are kind, amazing things will happen!

  • Kinga

    Addicted to music and learning languages. Loves reading, gardening, travelling and everything new media related.

  • Alistair

    Originally from Preston – but now calling Nottingham home – Alistair’s a St Helens rugby league fan who loves travel and music.

  • Natalie

    Proud to represent the county I grew up in. Travel loving devoted mum of two who carries a torch for the city’s unsung hero, Captain Albert Ball VC.

  • Sophie

    Writer and amateur local historian with an affection for English eccentrics. Returned to Nottingham in 2013, only to fall in love with the creative and cultural goings of the city.

Have a go...

unesco city of literature nottingham

Speak In Nottingham To Me – A Beginner’s Guide To Nottingham’s Dialect

Language is certainly one of our best creations. Without it, it would be difficult for us to coexist, establish communities and share feelings. Language makes it all easier and helps us work together and understand one another. Throughout history people always felt the need to find one universal language for all. Several attempts were made to popularise different languages…