Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Threepenny Opera **

Literally from the very first note, I felt that something was amiss with the new Atlantic Theater production of this Brecht-Weill classic. Although the seven musicians were visible onstage, the sound was coming from a spot somewhere over my head. The decision to amplify the music in a theater ot this size seems both unnecessary and wrongheaded. It creates an artificial gap between the musicians and the actors and diminishes any sense of intimacy. Furthermore, the production lacks both a clear unifying vision and a strong sense of time and place. It rarely engaged me at any level. In the past, I have not been a fan of Martha Clarke and her direction and choreography here do nothing to change my mind. On the plus side,  there are abundant vocal treats; both Laura Osnes as Polly and Sally Murphy as Jenny sing beautifully. It's a pleasure to see and hear Mary Beth Peil as Mrs. Peachum and Michael Park is a fine Macheath. F. Murray Abraham is adequate as Mr. Peachum. Robert Israel's set is dark and dreary. Donna Zakowska's costumes fared better. The whole came across to me as considerably less than the sum of its parts. In the long production annals of the show, this production will be remembered, if at all, as the one that featured an English bulldog in a key role. Running time: 2 hours, 10 minutes including intermission.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was quite disappointed with this production of a show I know and adore. The voices were good but too consistently loud and shrill, perhaps because of the sound system you mentioned. Macheath should be irresistibly charming, not just slick and criminal. The male trio lacked easy humor (think of Brush Up Your Shakespeare.) The songs were often sung from the rear and sides of the stage leaving the center and front for lots of annoying distractions such as seductions and bare breasts. I hated the cigarette smoke which diminished the effect of one of the best song numbers. The only singer with some good old Brecht-Weill life-weariness was Mrs. Peachum. And, most important to me, the social commentary and irony got lost in all the clutter.