Henry Goodman's Arturo Ui proves ir-resistible
Jonathan Church's production of Brecht's ''Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui'' opened at the Duchess Theatre last night (25 September 2013). Starring Henry Goodman in the title role, it runs until 7 December 2013
…Alistair Beaton's nifty new version, with plenty of new jokes, finds echoes in our own financial crisis… Goodman presents a terrifying madman… Goodman's not a lovable actor… But he drips technical virtuosity, the tools of his command, and you watch certain sequences with jaw-dropping disbelief… the tiny Duchess has been annexed, too, with Simon Higlett's design making good use of a catwalk through the stalls… In a large cast of eighteen, Goodman is surrounded by experts in applying the "frighteners" such as Michael Feast's serpentine Ernesto Roma, Joe McGann's "persuasive" Emanuele Giri, Colin Stinton's compromised Ignatius Dullfoot and William Gaunt's monumental Dogsborough; it's an evening of genuinely epic entertainment.
…this accomplished production, transferring from the high-flying Chichester Festival Theatre, has a golden ticket when it comes to its leading actor. Henry Goodman… now dazzles as a very loosely veiled Adolf Hitler. It's a hell of a role and Goodman gives a hell of a performance to match… Soon, though, the narrative momentum kicks in and Jonathan Church's confident and stylish production is away… The central role contains a mighty character trajectory, which Goodman tackles with aplomb… The final tableau of the play is terrifying in its silent, brutal and resonating power. Alistair Beaton's revised version of the text is pleasingly sparky… The West End is a better place for such challenging, intelligent fare.
…Henry Goodman is astonishing as the Hitler figure of the title… Some of these gangsters lose vitality to their accents, however, and the satire is slow. Goodman is a virtuoso, vocally and physically… these grimly comic set pieces are peopled by characters who are sub-Shakespearean as well as mirroring real figures… Played out on a set by Simon Higlett that is all dark bricks, corrugated iron, gangways and, towards the end, a giant podium decorated with a swastika-like emblem, this is tragedy with an unnerving twinkle in its eye… The last half-hour takes your breath away… It's always clear you're watching a great star turn, ably supported by a cast of 17. It takes a little longer to find out what a strange, powerful, rewarding evening this ends up being.
It's too long, it's didactic, it's sometimes hard to follow and it's by Bertolt Brecht. Four good reasons, you might think to give The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui a miss. But in Jonathan Church's swaggeringly confident production, with Henry Goodman giving an electrifying performance in the title role, this is a show you really should see. First staged in Chichester last year, it is an evening of dark wit and creepy thrills… though sometimes confusing in detail, the thrust of the play is clear, and Goodman is downright mesmeric. You simply cannot take your eyes off his high definition performance…
…an evening that's like an extended Monty Python sketch with Shakespearean tragedy thrown in. The final, chilling moments remind us that this is no laughing matter. Brecht sometimes makes heavy weather of his conceit, but Jonathan Church and his superlative cast never do. Henry Goodman is a knockout as Arturo Ui… Goodman never falters as he channels Charlie Chaplin (there's a great silent-movie-style sequence with a piano) and Richard III, sometimes within the same line. There is terrific support from William Gaunt, who brings a tragic edge to the compromised mayor, Dogsborough (Hindenburg), and Michael Feast and Joe McGann are murderously good as Ui's favoured thugs.
Come on our hosted WhatsOnStage Outing on 7 October. Click here for more information.