The Threepenny Opera

Much has been written about Brechts Threepenny Opera - after all, it was written in 1928 and plenty of critics have had a chance to dissect what has been become one of the earliest examples of 'epic theatre'. Sometimes it's possible to over-analyse, and miss the point of a good night's entertainment. This is, after all, a musical comedy.

Brecht's play is inhabited by beggars, thieves and prostitutes. This is not Jerry Herman. Central to the plot, MacHeath (Mack the Knife - and yes, the very same which Louis Armstrong and later Bobby Darin carved a living off the back of), marries Polly Peachum. Her father, Jonathan Peachum, played by the enthralling Spencer Pinkus, is none too pleased with this arrangement and spends much effort in having MacHeath hanged. So much for the in laws. Peachum's endeavours are hampered by the fact the chief of Police, Tiger Brown, is somewhat pally with MacHeath (even to the point the portrayal would suggest Brown would rather like some romantic involvement). Peachum's influence eventually brings MacHeath to trial, but in a rather bizarre twist is pardoned and titled. It was all going on in the twenties…

This company had already set themselves high standards. Last year CUBS brought Sondheim's Putting It Together to the Fringe, so the follow up would need to be pretty outstanding. Alexandra Spencer-Jones directs, and finds just the right level somewhere between Burlesque and Depravity. The cast bring Kurt Weill's beguiling score to life - this is Cabaret with attitude, long before Sally Bowles stepped foot in the Kit Kat Club. Jacky Evans as Mrs Peachum excels. Christopher Crawshaw as Tiger Brown brings a tenderness to the role which plays delightfully with Rob Heaps' MacHeath. And Thomas Kohut keeps us all in check as the seductively camp Balladeer.

This is a luscious and rich production of a masterpiece of musical theatre. Yet again, CUBS do not disappoint.

Reviews by Pete Shaw

Assembly George Square Studios

The House

★★★★★
theSpace on the Mile

Grace Notes

★★★
Greenwich Theatre

The Jungle Book

★★★
Greenwich Theatre

A Midsummer Night's Dream

★★★★
Multiple Venues

A Spoonful Of Sherman

★★★★★
Pleasance Theatre

Assassins

★★★★

The Blurb

Brecht and Weill in Tony-winning Blitzstein adaptation: Mack the Knife, with friends in high places, can watch justice hang and the streets ooze with corruption, violence and poverty. London-1837, Berlin-1928