The Threepenny Opera (Tour – Birmingham)

Brecht’s ”The Threepenny Opera” makes a return to Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Tal Fox reviews

Will Kenning and Milton Lopes
Will Kenning and Milton Lopes
© Patrick Baldwin

"An opera for beggars. Conceived with a magnificence such as only beggars could imagine, and an economy such as only beggars could afford." The Birmingham Repertory Theatre stage has been taken over by a group of beggars who want to share their side of the world’s cruelties and injustices. The Threepenny Opera arrives at a perfect time, when inequalities are prevalent and more and more sectors are facing financial cuts.

In the lead up to the coronation of the new king, London has become a city of injustice where evil runs free, poverty spreads and money will turn the law blind. Mr Peachum (Garry Robson), the king of beggars, is horrified to learn that his only daughter Polly (CiCi Howells), has married Mr Macheath (Milton Lopes) who, if the song "Mack the Knife" is anything to go by, is not your ideal son in law. Together with his wife, they plot to have this infamous criminal hanged. Eventually, Macheath is caught and taken to the gallows. Whether the end of the show is morally satisfying is up to the audience. Should he hang or should all shows have a happy ending?

Jeremy Sams and Robert David Macdonald have cleverly twisted the old Brecht play to encompass more modern references, making the grittiness of the show more relatable to the audience (yet sometimes in questionable taste). The strong female characters in the show give a fantastic performance with absolutely sensational voices. A delightful tea and cake scene between Polly and Lucy (Natasha Lewis) brings some much needed relief from the harsher brothel and warehouse scenes. Jenny (Amelia Cavallo) and Mrs Peachum (Victoria Oruwari) are united not only in bringing Mr Macheath to justice but also in their beautifully enchanting singing talents.

Graeae Theatre Company works to break down barriers and challenge preconceptions in the theatre. Their casting puts disabled actors in the central roles and makes the theatre more accessible for actors and audience alike.

– Tal Fox