• Stage
  • The Threepenny Opera at Berliner Ensemble: Gleefully irreverent


The Threepenny Opera at Berliner Ensemble: Gleefully irreverent

Bertholt Brecht’s classic of capitalist dystopia pulsates with a naughty delight in Barrie Kosky’s reinterpretation ★★★★

Photo: Moritz Haase

For all the grimness of its tale, Barrie Kosky’s reinterpretation of The Threepenny Opera is a great time. Kosky’s reimagining could not be more different than the lugubrious predecessor performance from Robert Wilson, which summoned a Weimar full of dread.

This kinetic production of Bertholt Brecht’s classic of capitalist dystopia – I mean, Victorian London’s criminal underworld – pulsates with a naughty delight. Gleefully irreverent, Kosky eschews portentousness for camp, focusing Brecht’s text into a story of the abandoned loves of the rake Macheath, aka Mack the Knife. And yet, the sharp edges still make themselves known, particularly through Tilo Nest’s interpretation of Jonathan Jeremiah Peachum, lord of the beggars and father of Polly, as a jester with menace.

Approaching its 125th performance, the actors have the confidence that comes with the repetition. Gabriel Schneider is electric as a manic Mack and Cynthia Micas is clearly having a great time as Polly Peachum, his would-be wife.

From the production’s opening with Josefin Platt’s rendition of ‘Macky Messer’ through its close, Kurt Weill’s music has never sounded so raucous. And the actors’ ongoing engagement of the crowd, vamping and calling out the audience to respond, interrupts the diegetic narrative just enough to remind everyone that the performance is but an illusion; the dark comedy on the stage, which grants Mack a reprieve of his execution, is indeed a reprieve from the real darkness through which we’re living. ★★★★

  • Die Dreigroschenoper (The Threepenny Opera), Jul 11-14, Berliner Ensemble, German with English surtitles