11 February 2022
The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui
Brecht’s parable play, which satirizes the political rise of Hitler and the Nazi party by transposing events to a fictional world of Chicago mobsters and corrupt businessmen, has rarely felt more timely.
Brecht’s parable play, which satirises the political rise of Hitler and the Nazi party by transposing events to a fictional world of Chicago mobsters and corrupt businessmen, has rarely felt more timely. It’s a challenging piece, and the Year 10 cast production rose brilliantly to meet that challenge in a performance of great verve and ensemble commitment, directed by Miss Fraser and Mr Henry.
The cabaret-style staging, with the Sackville Theatre given the feeling of a speakeasy, established a subversive underground atmosphere, the audience effectively becoming part of the mis-en-scène – the fourth wall well and truly broken. This was reinforced by Jamie Kutchera’s simple but intelligent lighting design, and the way in which the actors remained in the space even when offstage.
Among the great ensemble work there were also some outstanding individual performances. Both Arturo Uis (Georgie Williams and James Ellershaw) were excellent, blending the comic skill necessary to undermine this preposterous Hitler figure with occasional bursts of something much more intimidating and unhinged. The scene where Ui engages an actor to help with his posture and oratory, the latter portrayed with vain panache by Selim Macun, was a comic delight, and Ui’s final speech was chilling. Both leads were supported by some impressive gangsters, notably Oreofe Akinola as a coolly swaggering Giri, and Tom Bulley’s weaselly Givola. Arthuro Stephan had an interesting take on Doggsborough, often portrayed as a blimpish buffoon, but here altogether more obviously a failed schemer and hypocrite. Nadia Reavy gave a mature performance as both Dockdaisy and Betty Dullfeet, and the whole piece was brilliantly held together by Kirsh Misra’s announcer – a sort of master of ceremonies, who eloquently made Brecht’s final point – that history can and will repeat itself if we don’t all take responsibility and, if necessary, action.
This was an entertaining but serious play given a highly effective treatment – congratulations to everyone involved.