20 September 2016

The Threepenny Opera at National Theatre was brutal and stylish

The National Theatre was featuring more in my plans because while it was west-end expensive it was delivering the quality that justified that price tag. Even so, it was only a few of the productions that I found myself attracted to.

The Threepenny Opera attracted me because it was one of the classic plays that I owed myself to see and because it was by Kurt Weill. It was a significant bonus that this adaptation was by Simon Stephens who did the same job on the highly popular and very excellent The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, though, to be honest, I prefer seeing his own plays to his adaptations.

The final plus was that it starred Rory Kinnear as Macheath, a.k.a. Mac the Knife.

All that was enough to make me fork out £40 for my seat Olivier Theatre Circle A52 £40.

The play opened with Mac the Knife in which we learned how Macheath earned his nickname. That set the tone for the evening with Rory Kinnear looking every inch the brutal and stylish gangster.

The other notable star of the evening was the stage that moved in all sorts of wondrous ways to create interesting spaces for the drama to unfold in. When you have a stage that can do clever things then it makes sense to do them as long as it enhances the drama, which it did her. Oddly it reminded me of the tricks the stage did in Port, a Simon Stephens written play.

Also worth a mention in a large and excellent cast was Haydn Gwynne as Celia Peachum, the wife of a gangster and the mother of Macheath's wife following a brief and unexpected relationship. I still thought of Haydn Gwynne as Alex Pates in Drop the Dead Donkey in the early 90's and she looked no different to me as she did then. She was superb in her role.

The Threepenny Opera took us through the criminal underworld with its strong characters, sleaze, petty machinations, rivalries, violence and changing loyalties. It was a compelling world and the characters' stories quickly drew me into it. The large cast was used skilfully and there was always a lot going on, a lot of stories to follow and a lot of characters to worry about.

The Threepenny Opera remained brutal and stylish throughout and was utterly entertaining too.

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