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The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui - review.

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A witty and savage satire on the rise to power of Adolf Hitler, The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui recasts him as small-time Chicago gangster, Arturo Ui, who bullies his way from mere control of the local Cauliflower Trust to take over the city's greengrocery trade. This menacing parable, written by Bertolt Brecht in 1941 at the height of Nazi supremacy in Europe, captures the build-up to horrors that were to be unleashed by the Third Reich in the later years of the Second World War. From Hitler's beginnings as a political upstart, his appointment as German chancellor, the destruction of the Reichstag, the murder of Austria's chancellor and the conquest of central Europe, Arturo Ui recreates an atmosphere that is as deeply unsettling as it is darkly comic. ...read more.


His brand of moralising politics usually runs contrary to our need for entertainment but in this brave new production, a satisfying synthesis between the political meat and the comedy veg is achieved. Set amidst the economic turmoil of gangster controlled Chicago in the '30s, the play is a direct and thinly veiled attack on German apathy towards the threat of Hitler's rise to power and a warning to future generations. In this production, director Phillip Breen successfully strikes a balance between the ominous overtones of the Hitlerian episodes and the Chaplin-like caricatures and comedy moments of Brecht's grand style. Two years before Hitler's programmes of extermination, the dangers of his expansionist tendencies and his ruthless political ambition were already apparent to Brecht as he transposes Hitler's manipulation of the German and Austrian governments onto a gangster's attempts to take over the cauliflower trade in American cities. ...read more.


Certain scenes were terrific - the corruption of the law courts by the gangsters, represented by a revolving set where each revolution brought the Judge and the mob closer together, and a gangster killing in a darkened garage both stand out. Performances were universally excellent- true to the Brechtian ideal of the collective, no one could possibly be singled out for particular praise or criticism. However, it has to be said that Christian Coulson's eerily Tony Blair-esque delivery of Ui's mannerisms and speech added an unexpected contemporary resonance to the portrayal of a conniving, fascist dictator and his political harem. To call this an excellent student production would not do it justice. This was simply excellent theatre; utterly absorbing and consummately professional. ...read more.

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