UD REP ENSEMBLE, the best theatre in the state and equal to the best in the region, dives head first into unchartered waters with their first play with music, THE THREEPENNY OPERA.
This is not your Mom Mom's "Oklahoma" , where the only tension therein is who will take Laurie to the church social in the surrey with the fringe on top.
Written by philosopher/social commentator Bertolt Brecht with music by Kurt Weill, both of whom suffered and aggrieved under the threat of pre war German fascism of the '30's. Think Liza Minnelli's "Cabaret" sans Kit Kat Klub but with more social corruption, deceit and hypocrisy.
Set in a dystopian, anachronistic Victorian England, the central figure is MacHeath a/k/a 'Mac The Knife' (Mic Matarrese) a veteran REP Player who - from his first entrance - establishes himself as the major domo of crime in London; the amoral anti-hero.
Mac is obsessed with women as Lance Armstrong is with lying. In fact, one might have wished to see a bit more of Lance in Mac; a bit more of the conniver, the manipulator and the scourge of all who stand in opposition.
One very much Mac's antagonist was JJ Peachum, the always wonderful Stephen Pelinski and Mrs. Peachum (Kathleen Pirkl-Tague)...whose husband, btw is directing DTC's current comedy. Yes, the Peachums are scoundrels themselves, so there is little room to talk. And, they wear outfits I swear my Mom and Dad wore in the '50's.
Peachum trains and licenses all London beggars and gets a majority of their action, thank you very much! She enables him and has her own little problem with liquor, playing a drunk both realistically and comically.
It seems the Peachums are slightly miffed that Mac has wed their daughter Polly (Deena Burke) after knowing her but 5 days. This is exacerbated by the rumor that Mac has also wed Lucy (Erin Partin) daughter of his best friend (and ironically Police Chief) Tiger Brown (Anand Nagraj). Partin, the best voice in the ensemble, teams with Burke for a stirring and strident "Jealousy Duet".
To JJ, Polly is his property. This is enough for him. "My daughter is my rod and staff of my old age", he spits out from the other side of his mouth. He conspires to have Mac hung. Mac's other lover, prostitute Jenny (Elizabeth Heflin) turns him in. Honor, it appears, is bereft in the entire assemblage.
The music is difficult. It is disharmonic. These are not the melodies of Cole Porter. It is challenging even for trained singers. The live band, another first for the REP, sits behind the mammoth, sky-scraping post-industrial set piece created by Mathew LeFebvre. The design is inimical to the edginess of the play.
Spouts JJ Peachum, "Everybody's on the take, so awake ye poor sinners". " I'd love to make the world a better place. It's just not practical". ( Those homilies ring true today. To wit: Wall Street and the excess pork in every bill coming out of the US Capitol. )
The play has been produced over 10,000 times due to the questions and the uneasiness it provokes. Who is the more righteous; the capitalist in the mansion or the criminal in the bowery? Those watching can make their own decisions. That's epic theatre!
REP ENSEMBLE continues its mission of producing theatrical classics with the highest quality production values. It confounds AISLE SAY when I discuss REP and the reply is a blank stare. Huzzahs, btw, to the powers at UD for continuing the adjacent PTTP MFA program; it being the training ground for this gifted ensemble.
The art generated by Sandy Robbins and his dedicated crew will continue to flourish and benefit both UD and our state.
Through February 2 REP.UDEL.EDU 831.2204