(l-r) Chris Brickhouse and Will Von Vogt. Photo by Matthew Gregory Hollis
Bertolt Brecht’s tale of doomed do-gooder Shen Te in THE GOOD PERSON OF SZECHWAN is as timeless as it is poignant. There is proof of this in Cor Theatre’s recent interpretation of Tony Kushner’s adaptation of the classic, set in a multi-cultural modern day ghetto, complete with gender-bending casting and well-versed beats dropping to illuminate what the good have come to say.
The plot explores themes based on inequality and social injustice, most notably asking if one can survive being good while being exploited for one’s goodness. Brecht penned the play whilst in exile in California, away from Nazi Germany (where he would have most likely faced death), himself, a socialist sympathizer. Cor Theatre brings an A-game cast and to single out a few would do injustice to the rest. They came equipped with comedic timing, rapping skills, steely blue stares, effortless drag wear, vocal harmonies, believable accents, caricature characterizations, and the ability to extricate emotions from the audience. Yes, Herr Brecht, with apologies to your “epic theater” vision of removing us from the feels so we can get your social message, this ensemble managed to deliver both and that, in itself, is an epic feat for our modern day society filled with tear shedding emojis and confusion of where in the moral spectrum we stand.
This refreshing production chose a fitting style of music for its aesthetic, as rapping and hip-hop strive to find truth void of poeticism. Not only did this choice bring the necessary self-aware element, but the audience was most appreciative of the approach, most receptive to understand. A “St. Never-to-Be” verse, particularly, hit home as it sentimentally danced on our empathy strings. Kudos to Director Ernie Nolan for staging a fine Brechtian drama worthy of any new comer being introduced to the often difficult-to-get-into German dramatist. If there is one take away from it all, it resonates within the words of Brecht, himself: “No one can be good for long if goodness is not in demand.” We’ve been challenged, friends. Do good. Demand it of others. Change the world.
August 22nd, 2016