Savannah's Theatre Blog

What Keeps a Man Alive? – The Threepenny Opera

Posted in Uncategorized by Savannah on June 24, 2010

Set in a “dark metropolis” (Casey Benneto), The Threepenny Opera delves into the question: what keeps a man alive? Centered around the manipulative and “psychopathic” (Eddie Perfect) Macheath, we explore the lives of criminals and those they have brought into their lives but most importantly – what keeps them alive.

The Stage Manager and Eddie Perfect

After the performance, we were given the opportunity to talk with the stage manager (Darren Kowacki) and ask him some questions. Unfortunately I could not think of a SINGLE question, thankfully the others managed to. Taleah asked about the safety precautions they had to take in the process and during the performances of The Threepenny Opera. They were all fairly basic, logical precautions such as ensuring there was nothing for the cast and crew to trip over. Something I didn’t know was that he (Darren), or any stage manager, has to write a report of the show after each performance giving details of the technical issues. I think this is a really good thing to do and in a next performance, we should do something of the sort although perhaps in a shorter version even though as our performances only go on for two nights or so. Something I finally managed to ask about was the noose and why it was there at the beginning before the cast had come on. I had been thinking that it was likely to be foreshadowing of the events later in the play, both it being present but going up again because Macheath does not suffer the fate of being hanged does he? And it transpired that my theory was right! So I was very happy about that.

This talk with Darren soon transformed into a talk with Eddie Perfect and I was startled by his acting process. What he described was a process used long ago before method acting was introduced. His focus was on the outside (as the core of Brechtian theatre is) rather than the inside but essentially he did not find the inner truth of his character. Generally I would view this as a crime but I was captivated by his performance. I particularly loved the manipulative element of Macheath that he portrayed as well as the changes of emotion. He (Eddie Perfect) told us that the key to Macheath was unpredictable mood swings and that was something that really worked for me.

However, there were two main things in his performance that I didn’t like. The first was the posing and I do not mean the posing in itself – that’s fine but there it seemed that he had not found a purpose for the movements. This meant – to me – that they were rather useless.

Something else that I think would have made his performance more powerful would have been to create a heightened statues between Macheath and his gang. There was some contrast in their status but I think there could have and should have been more. IF he had held stance whilst his gang ran around like monkeys, I think it would have been very effective in portraying status. It would  have simultaneously shown the control and influence Macheath had over his gang.


Something that really stuck out for me was the lighting right near the beginning of the piece. Some of the cast (including Paul Capsis who I  thought was just amazing – I didn’t even realise until after the play that he played Jenny and I was told even then – incredible!) were entering whilst the stage crew were organising the set. There was a series of flashing lights which really grabbed the attention of the audience and heightened the intensity that had been created by Paul Capsis’ screaming (as Jenny) at the very beginning. It was a stylistic choice that I felt was very effective.


The many references to boxing I also found effective. There was the “rope of narrative” (inside they were the characters, outside they were a narrator. It was broken occasionally though when the plot was very intense), the signs (generally held by Sukey who incidentally physically portrayed her character very well – I think anyway), the drop down microphone, the boxing gloves and those moments where the characters would retreat to corners. It was great in portraying the competitive element of life which was an ever-present theme in The Threepenny Opera. As well as this, it tied the piece together.

All in all, a fantastic piece… I found it a bit confronting with the language and the story itself but just fascinating. The acting and singing was just phenomenal especially from the two sopranos. Their duet was so entertaining  but it also carried immense strength. I wish I could see it again to just absorb everything.


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