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HomeNewsArchives'The Threepenny Opera' Reviewed by S. Cory Willis

'The Threepenny Opera' Reviewed by S. Cory Willis

Feb. 28, 2007 – Currently running on Pistarckle Theater's main stage, is "The Threepenny Opera" written by German playwright Bertolt Brecht with music composed by Kurt Weill. The musical showcases the lower side of London in the early 1900's. Within the city there are two top dogs. On one side of the city there is Mr. Peachum, a man who runs a business that hires people to beg on the streets of London. (Mr. Peachum gets a considerable amount of their take). On the other side of the city there is Mack the Knife and his gang, who take what or whoever they please. And when Mack the Knife marries Mr. Peachum's daughter behind his back the comedy really begins.
Poet and one-time Brecht collaborator W. H. Auden said of Brecht that he was one of the three most evil men he knew. German playwright Count Kessler, on first meeting Brecht in 1928 shortly after the opening of "The Threepenny Opera" in Berlin, remarked on his "'strikingly decadent head, almost a classical criminal physiognomy . . . almost the typical thug". He has been accused of plagiarism, of fiscal deception, of smarmy "sex-for-text" exploitations of his female theatrical co-workers and reviled for his nonchalant appropriation of other people's ideas and words as his own. "Shakespeare, he was a thief, too," Brecht has said.
Next to Shakespeare, this "thief," "thug" and "plagiarist" is one of the most revered and performed playwrights in the world. Shakespeare, most of us will say with confidence, will hold his position. But will Brecht?
It opens with the wonderful "Ballad of Mack the Knife" and ends with the same, now a grand hymn to the opera's evil anti-hero, Macheath, rapist, murderer and thug, pardoned for his wrongdoings and elevated into the aristocracy on a pension for life. Crime does pay; and whores, beggars and thieves are triumphant.
The mature Brecht was to develop this acute awareness of theatre's power to analyze social ills. But its equally powerful ability to manipulate the emotions and reasoning of its audience was what he was really after. The theatre of the mature Brecht was built on the premise that the self was not a given but a made, and his dramatic theory grew from the marginal aphorism "not to interpret the world, but to change it." In today's political climate of propaganda and spin, of lies and deceit in the public realm, and fear in the private, the difference is profound in its implications.
-The Sydney Morning Herald
Performances continue at 8 p.m., on Friday, March 2; at 2 and 8 p.m., on Saturday, March 3; at 8 p.m., on Friday, March 9; and at 2 and 8 p.m., on Saturday March 10.
For ticket information, call the Pistarckle box office at 775-7877. The play is sponsored by the Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation, Caribbean Auto Mart, MSI Building Supplies, Thrifty & Dollar Car Rentals, and VICA.

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