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.