Review, The Threepenny Opera, OVO, The Cockpit Theatre, London by James Ellis

 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

A rare treat from OVO in London with The Threepenny Opera. Most well know for the hit song Mack the Knife, the show’s titular anti-hero, this remained a delight. From the mostly young cast was brought new life to this peculiar show. High res jackets and made up mannequins are the home stay of the production, directed by Adam Nichols and Julia Mintzer.

Kurt Weil excelled as caberat songs, symphonies and film score. This is some of his best work here, the bouncing, acidic metres and remaining tunefulness are total highlights. Story wise, Bertold Brecht was never one to turn down a sort of fable lecture in most of his work. Mack the Knife is one of London’s most infamous criminals, falls in love with Polly and gets his commpuence…or does he?

My plus one was confused over the meaning and the ending’s choice. I always see it as Brecht’s cutting look at society and the systems we engage in as flawed, corrupted and horrible. This was Peaky Blinders for the Weimar period. Much respect to the springy, witty ensemble. This is such a Cockney piece and the accents felt genuine (this London after all) and the leads impressed. Peter Watss as Mack, bringing out all the stops for the scary, yet loveable thug. It was nicely performed and should see him in the role agian.

Polly was a delight from Emily Panes, musically well suited to caberat. The role does not have a lot to do, but when she engages with Mack and warding off his other lady friends things take flight. Mark Carlisle adds mad inventor vibes and Jonathan Peacham, engaged with money making schemes with homeless people. The delivery was telling and his timing well paced. Annette Yeo as as Celia Peccham in an amuzing costume and shrill theatrics is another enjoyable flutter.

The ensemble acted, sang and played the instruments and well done them. Czech conductor Lada Valešová added a serious, if still fun tone to proceedings. Her sometimes engaging with the action was dry, these little moments helped break down the show, being in the round, in English translation and by a group who didn’t focus on making a very showy show.

It runs till 7th Oct 2023. More information here

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