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The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui review at The Playhouse Liverpool

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Unquestionably, The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui is as close to theatrical perfection as anybody has a right to expect.

Set between 1929 and 1938, the action takes place in Chicago where gangster Arturo Ui is set upon becoming the big cheese of the city’s cauliflower industry. That Ui is, in fact, a parody of Hitler and the story an allegory of German leader’s rise to power is not dimmed by this jokey interpretation of facts, but instead, thanks to Walter Meierjohann’s expert direction, exemplifies the horrors of all that ensued.

The whitened faces of each character and superb lighting underscore a dark atmosphere so that every nuance becomes enhanced and never more overtly than in the performance of Ian Bartholomew whose Ui is the very epitome of madness, particularly during a speech that makes the hairs at the nape of the neck stand on end.

Extraordinary, too, is Leanne Best who, in playing all of the female roles, garnishes the characteristics of both the Chicago and Berlin molls so well it is a joy to witness. Indeed, the entire cast are at the very top of their game and so make the whole play zip along at lightening speed.

An electronic reader helps keep the audience in tune with the significance of the action, but in truth it is the play and its the message that are most captivating and most disturbing, making this one of the finest productions to have been played out on this stage for a very long time.

Production Information

The Playhouse, Liverpool, September 30-October 22

Bertolt Brecht, translated by Stephen Sharkey
Walter Meierjohann
Everyman Playhouse, Nottingham Playhouse
Cast includes
Ian Bartholomew, Leanne Best, Nick Moss, Nick Cavaliere, Mike Goodenough, William Hoyland, Robin Kingsland
Running time
2hrs 45mins

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