Three Penny Opera
by Berthold Brecth and Kurt Weill
Directed by Bobbie Bell
Orlando Theater Project and Seminole Community College
In order to extract the last crumbs of money from the poor, one must exactly follow the letter of the law. That’s the policy of J.J. Peachum, outfitter and licenser of London’s begging community. It’s a closed shop, and like the Teamsters, no one cuts in. No tickee, no beggee. Now married to his daughter Polly is another London Legitimate Businessman, deadly Mackie MacHeath, alias Mac the Knife. A multitalented artist, he works in murder, pimping, arson, and provides critical employment to London’s criminal class. He also extracts a toll from those not likely to get a Gold card, just in a bit more direct manner. Papa’s none too pleased, as running a brothel isn’t quite as upscale as shaking down cripples. Vendetta and operetta ensure and soon enough, it’s hang time for Mackie.
A combination of professionals and students work together to stage this recently re-translated classic of Wiemar Germany. A series of slides projected over the proscenium adds a Tennessee Williams feel to this portal of man’s bestiality to fellow man. The mixture of pro and am makes the production bit uneven, but still enjoyable. Several players stood out, including MacHeath (John DiDonna), the over the top Polly (Jacqueline Grad), and best of all, the rubbery Josh Siniscalco as Mr. Peachum, who looks like John Cleese without any bones. Music comes from a cheesy wheezy barrel organ played on a synthesizer, lending a suitably low class note to the evening.
Never one to mince words, Brecth preaches the real misery of poverty, true today as in the 1923 German economic collapse. You’re taken in by the story, hoping to see Mack swing, but in the end its you who feels the guilt. Give a buck to a bum — maybe they’re too lazy to work, but maybe they’re not. You don’t get to decide.