- May 12, 2019
Regular visitors to Brighton Festival Kneehigh are fearlessly inventive when it comes to making theatre and this reworking of The Beggar’s Opera is no exception. There is a raw energy at play this time, a fierce re-working of John Gay’s original that brings it bang up to date, or does it. In fact it takes the heart of that work and makes it totally timeless.
Writer Carl Grose has done a brilliant job here as has composer Charles Hazlewood, the language and music are key elements in this, but above all is the combination of Mike Shepherd’s vibrant direction and some truly extraordinary performances, all of which are spellbinding.
Rina Fatania is blissfuly vulgar and vile as Mrs Peachum, Martin Hyder as Les Peachum is feeble in the right way and Angela Hardie in contrast as Polly Peachum is delightfully sweet – and what a voice! Equally impressive is Lucy Rivers as Widow Goodman and again what a voice! Dominic Marsh is seductively wonderful as Macheath, hideous and yet so so attractive and again he nails those songs, expecially the ones that echo the brilliant Ian Dury. Giles King is utterly believable as the flawed arm of the law Lockit and Beverly Rudd as his conflcited daughter Lucy gets to the very heart of the character.
There is one more noteable human performance and that is Georgia Frost as Filch, from the very start utterly compelling. Filch is a real delight, comedic and tragic in equal measure and Frost delivers this with a raw energy and style that is mesmerically beautiful.
Next the puppets, Kneehigh love puppets in this instance they are an integral part of the whole, and brilliantly employed, Mr Punch, the eponymous dog and a brood of grotesque babies that would pur any young person off the idea of parenthood, all operated by members of the ensemble with real skill.
Finally and not least a remarkable set from Michael Vale lit by Malcolm Rippeth, a shifting framework of steel and wood that works brilliantly as home to both the drama nad the core of the musical ensemble that deliver the score with such energy.
Theatre Royal Brighton