Show us the way to the next bobo bar! (Oh, don’t ask why!) Amid the gentrified bars of the Lower East Side is one speakeasy that Bertolt Brecht might have abided. Sunday nights through November 22, Bread Arts Collective pays homage with Rise and Fall, Ian Storey’s adaption of Brecht and Kurt Weill’s 1930 opera, Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny. That stirring fable of capitalism took place in the Widow Begbick’s saloon; here the setting is the Wealthy Fucker, a neighborhood joint.
The mood is more giddy than Marxist, and the original music (by Andrew Lynch, with nary a note from Weill) tends toward raucous. But the tale will be familiar if you know the source: Jimmy Gallagher (Katie Melby) and his lumberjack buddies roll into town after seven years toiling in Alaska. Mahagonny offers ladies of the night and plenty of booze (shots are distributed). Everything seems to be permitted and the fun never stops — not even when a hurricane devastates the city. But when Jimmy runs low on cash, he discovers that one offense incurs harsh penalties in a society that worships liquidity. “Such is the power of money in our time,” laments his former pal, as Jimmy faces the electric chair. Under the direction of Eric Powell Holm, Bread Arts kicks off with some entertaining (if sophomoric) antics, commencing the cast party while they do the show. But Melby’s androgynous struts go a long way, and by the end of this drama-club bacchanal, the ensemble closes the deal. Tom Sellar
Rise and Fall
Bread Arts Collective
163 Allen Street
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 10, 2015