The good news is that there’s a new adaptation of “The Threepenny Opera” on the stage at Britain’s National Theatre, and the even better news is that on Sunday the HD broadcast of the production will be at Macon’s Douglass Theatre, one of the few locations to host the broadcast in the entire Southeast.
This classic musical is the work of one of the most successful collaborations of all time, that of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill (how’s that for a pedigree?), and has been newly adapted by Simon Stephens, the very same playwright who adapted the Mark Haddon novel “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time,” which also was presented by the National Theatre.
This is a show with a rich history. Back in pre-World War II Germany, dramatist Elisabeth Hauptmann translated John Gay’s 18th century “The Beggar’s Opera,” which in turn was adapted by Brecht and supplied with music by Weill.
Because of the social critique contained in the storyline, all three left Germany after Hitler came to power in the 1930s and made them targets of cultural oppression, but by that time this musical story of the London underworld had become wildly popular on an international scale.
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This tale has been further modified by Stephens, who promises “mess and chaos and blood and sex” in this “excavation of power and corruption.” The play’s social and economic commentary, already biting, is said to be even more caustic in Stephens’ hands.
Olivier Award-winner Rory Kinnear plays Mack the Knife, Rosalie Craig is Polly Peachum and Haydn Gwynne is Mrs. Peachum in this modernized version of the tale.
While the National Theatre’s website cautions in that the production contains “filthy language and immoral behavior,” the really naughty bits are the social commentary.
The Douglas is one of only three theaters within 200 miles to host this show. Is it an opera or a musical? You can decide on Sunday.