Review - The Threepenny Opera

As part of Reading Fringe 2015, Out Class performed The Threepenny Opera by Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht at Watlington House.

Set in 18th London, The Threepenny Opera tells the tale of Macheath, played well by Thomas Grey as a suave anti hero, with a passion for crime and an eye for the ladies. Mack heads off to marry Polly Peacham, portrayed with a lovely balance of delicate appeal and brashness by Georgia Knight. But Polly's parents set about thwarting the wedding plans - wanting to turn Mack into the police, with enticing offers of a cash reward. What ensues is a good old crime caper, with Mack fleeing the coppers via several of the women that claim his love.

This production employed gender blind casting, with many of the female actors playing both male and female roles. You didn't notice the gender of the actors.

What I found beautiful about this production were the untarnished performances by every single actor - confident, and often understated.

Mr and Mrs Peacham were portrayed in a particularly comic way - very funny and well paired. The actors playing Gilch and Jenny gave engaging, natural performances. Tiger Brown was well played as Macheath's old friend. The portrayal of Lucy was confident, brassy and funny. The actor playing Matthew appeared at ease, which was captivating.

Several of the songs were performed without backing, which was an effective approach - allowing the cast to freely interpret the song to suit a modern staging.

Two scenes stood out for me in particular - they were both songs performed as spoken word. Pirate Jenny featured delicate movement and was spoken beautifully, in a poetic way. The Jealousy Duet was a funny, well timed confrontation between Polly and Lucy - a bold, brassy battle over Mack's affections.

The only element that I found uncomfortable was the revealing set of costumes, especially as the actors are still at 6th form. Given the modern interpretation, I didn't feel it was necessary to support the story - although the actors were confident, which was great to see, and all body types were represented.

Overall, I really enjoyed the production and would recommend keeping an eye out for more from Out Class!

Louise Quelch (c)

Cast: Thomas Grey, Georgia Knight, Megan Allaway, Mia Turner, Jessica Osbourne, Troy Johnson, Denisha Parmenter, Mariama Drammeth, Skky Weston

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