REVIEW: Full-blooded show is top drawer

For a full-blooded theatrical experience that grabs the attention straightaway and never lets up, The Threepenny Opera, at Nottingham Playhouse, is right out of the top drawer.

This is a co-production of Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht’s classic 1928 musical tale, and is being presented by Nottingham Playhouse Theatre Company, Birmingham Repertory Theatre, New Wolsey Theatre Ipswich, West Yorkshire Company and Graeae Theatre Company, the UK’s foremost disabled-led theatrical ensemble.

Weill’s often spiky and sometimes sleazy music is still attractively unusual and while Brecht’s attack on capitalism uses the sledgehammer rather than the scalpel, in these times of financial crisis it still packs a punch, 85 years on from its first production in Germany.

A multi-talented cast handles all the acting duties, playing all the instruments, moving the scenery, providing sign language interpretation and also a spot of audio description to make this a truly inclusive production.

With the musicians to the side of the stage, the actors in the middle, plus words projected on the back wall and the intermittent use of video packages on a screen, there is a lot to take in at any one time but that’s the beauty of this in your face production.

It’s packed with points of interest throughout its three acts.

Performance musical director Joey Hickman leads his multi-faceted musicians with aplomb and in the acting stakes, the stand-out performers are Milton Lopes as the dangerously roguish Macheath (aka the famous Mack the Knife), Cici Howells, whose soaring singing voice is put to good use as Polly, and particularly the commanding Garry Robson as the slippery Peachum.

Directors Peter Rowe and Jenny Sealey have a considerable hit on their hands here, and a word of praise to for the excellent English translation of the lyrics by Jeremy Sams and the words by Robert David McDonald.

The Threepenny Opera can be seen at Nottingham Playhouse until March 8 before embarking on a two-month tour.

Tickets are available by calling the box office at the Playhouse on 0115 9419419.