Saturday, February 16, 2013

Drama Review: The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui by Bertolt Brecht

Publication date: 1941
Performance date: February 9, 2013
Venue: OU Theatre

What it's about: In 1930s Chicago, mobster Arturo Ui is attempting to gain control of the greengrocer trade, especially that of cauliflowers. By use of corruption and the ruthless disposal of any opposition, Ui makes his way up the structure of power in an allegory of Adolf Hitler's rise in Germany.

The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui started out so-so. There's a ton of quick, dense dialogue at the beginning that makes it a bit difficult to initially understand the context of the play, though later this proved not to be an issue. Following my reading of Brecht's The Threepenny Opera last year, I expected the play to be rather comedic, but it generally was not.

The play increased in enjoyability, however, the farther along it went. The satire of Hitler and the Nazi rise to power becomes increasingly obvious throughout, with the conclusion being blatantly political and anti-Fascist. (I ended up with a portrait of Fidel Castro sitting in front of me, seemingly looking directly into my eyes.* It was not the most comfortable conclusion to a play.) Anyway, I highly recommend finding a live performance or a recording of The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui to see. It's a very thought-provoking play, and even after the context of its writing has passed, its power to impress the audience remains.

*My seat was in the middle of the front row in a small box theatre, so the stage area was literally right there. I'm used to larger halls, so having cast members and props a foot away seemed odd and kind of personal.

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