Wednesday, 16 November 2016

THREE STAR REVIEW - The Beggar's Opera, Brockley Jack


A modernised adaptation of John Gay’s classic satirical musical, The Beggar’s Opera, is the latest production to grace the Brockley Jack’s stage.
The original story was designed to get away from romanticising the villains, highway men and general ne’er do wells of the 18th century and tell a story about the real nasties in society - those who rob and murder.
The central figure is Macheath, a notorious highway man who has a dubious reputation not just for being a villain but also for his ways with the ladies.
Despite his dubious and dodgy character and wicked ways, Polly Peachum falls for him and marries him in secret - much to her parents’ disgust. 
In so doing they incur the wrath of her father Mr Peachum who lays a bounty on Macheath’s head and so in a bid to stay alive and evade capture, Macheath decides to skip town.
But a leopard doesn’t easily change his spots and Macheath can’t stay away from the drinking dens, women and other temptations and eventually finds himself caught and thrown in jail. Will Polly or any of his other conquests be able to save him?
While it has much to recommend it I am not sure this particular production by Ricky Dukes worked completely. It romps through at such a pace that some of the story feels rushed and unless you know it, it might not be that easy to follow. 
As a result there is also no real indication of what Mr Peachum does for a living, neither is there a sense that Macheath is not only a womaniser, cad and a bounder but is also not averse to slitting peoples’ throats on a whim. 
And sadly there was no Mack The Knife, the song that most people know and instead it was filled with an entirely new score.
However the cast was strong and included stand out performances by Michaela Bennison as Polly and Sherwood Alexander as Macheath. Not only that, they all used the small confines of the Jack well with some nifty choreography and a minimum of strategically placed props.

The Beggar’s Opera is on at the Brockley Jack Studio Theatre until December 3. Tickets cost £14, £12 concessions. Visit or call the box office on 0333 666 3366 for full listings.

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