Saturday, December 06, 2008

Ian's World of Incisive Theatre Criticism" "The Resistable Rise of Artutro Ui"

The Resistable Rise of Arturo Ui in the Abbey is very good. I was Jimmy Fay's last go at directing Brecht's classic, back in 1987 or something. This was different, more, eh, theatrey. I think they went for it more with the American gangster accents as well this time.

People talk a lot about Tom Vaughan Lawlor, the chap who plays Ui. And he is very good, but the rest of the cast rock too. Karl Shiels as Givola, of course, but also the rest. I had a particular fondness for Des Cave, who plays a hammy old Shakespearean actor hauled in to give Ui some lessons in deportment and public speaking; he had played Ui himself in the last Abbey production, in 1974*.

As you know, the play tells the story of the rise of Adolf Hitler, only resituated so that it is about a Chicago gangster who is trying to ingratiate himself with the city's cauliflower suppliers. In our time of economic meltdown he play has a certain resonance, and you do find yourself worrying about what the crisis will bring us.

One funny textual thing - the last line of the play is a warning, telling us that we cannot assume that with Hitler's defeat the threat of fascism is gone, with the narrator saying that the woman that gave birth to him is still fertile (or something like that). Apparently this is more usually rendered in English as the more graphic "The bitch that bore him is still in heat". I wonder why the change.

*there is a great picture from this in the programme, featuring two guys who appear to have read Michael Green's "The Art of Coarse Acting"

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