Theater

David Fuller's off-color schemes
photo: Gerry Goodstein
David Fuller's off-color schemes

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The Threepennny Opera
Jean Cocteau Repertory
330 Bowery
212.677.0060

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If you are an aficionado of the seediness of Brecht/Weill's The Threepenny Opera, Jean Cocteau Repertory's revival will likely disappoint. With a few cuts and a large helping of cheerfulness, a play about prostitutes, beggars, and murderers is now a slightly off-color musical comedy. Gone are the grotesqueries of the battle between a washed-up cut-throat and the leader of a labor union for panhandlers; the scorn heaped upon capitalist society is made redundant. Miraculously, the play survives this transfiguration, emerging the better for it. Cocteau Rep has managed to achieve what few could imagine: a production of Brecht completely devoid of arrogance. Voices may warble and the piano may thunder in a way too reminiscent of a high school musical, but there is an infectious glee to this staging: a delight in ridiculous melodrama, in visible spotlight operators, in a dramatic magic that makes attaching a cardboard horse's head to a Razor scooter seem like a good idea. There is a joy to this staging that could probably even infect an eternal cynic like Brecht. The Threepenny Opera is a strange, dark play, but director David Fuller and his cast have managed to make of it something resplendent.

 
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