Arts > Gangsters and molls

16 June 2016 | by Mark Lawson

Gangsters and molls


Outside of pantomimes and summer shows, the scheduling of theatre productions is dictated by a set of variables that include availability of talent and the dates of preceding shows. But sometimes luck throws up interesting coincidences and, at the start of June, the National opened political comedies old and new.

The Threepenny Opera has always been the most popular piece in Britain of Bertolt Brecht, a writer who has tended to be more known than shown here because of resistance to both the German playwright’s Marxist ideology and his dramatic theories, which resist the convention of suspension of disbelief.

The warmer response to his story of the crook Macheath is due partly to it being an adaptation of an English play, John Gay’s eighteenth-century The Beggar’s Opera, but also the score by Kurt Weill, on a jazzy spectrum from menacing to tender, which has found favour in both opera houses and, through Frank Sinatra’s “Mack the Knife”, easy-listening playlists.


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