Brecht aimed to highlight the preventability of dictatorship in its formative stages. Pulitzer-winning writer Bruce Norris’s adaptation draws parallels to Donald Trump’s ascension with relative ease.
Lenny Henry captivates as Ui; his authoritative stage presence dominates the theatre space. He’s feared by the population at large and adored by cronies. Notably, Lucy Ellinson embodies the spirit of Ui’s sneering right-hand hitman Emanuele Giri with gusto and panache.
Lucy Ellinson (Giri), The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui (Photo: Helen Maybanks)
True to its period and location, this staging features speakeasy-style seating and an old-time microphone that dangles into the middle of the stage like bait on a massive fish-hook. (The mic is then dropped in every conceivable dramatic sense.) Tables and chairs are arranged around the great empty space of the stage, and at times it’s hard not to imagine you’re watching a real mobster brawl in the middle of a real bar.
This intimacy makes it easy to haul audience members onstage to play corpses and generally participate in reinforcing the passive docility with which we accept authoritative leadership. Arguably, the audience participation can at times distract from the politically charged dialogue – it’s an interplay that spotlights the relationship between orators and listeners, and the bravado and performance skills required to captivate the masses. The showmanship of politics, in other words, that distracts from the bigger picture and allows demagogues to rise to power.
Giles Terera (Roma), The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui (Photo: Helen Maybanks)
The Resistible Rise showcases the techniques and qualities needed for fascist leaders to succeed: intimidation, scapegoating, media manipulation and dealing in the currency of faith – the kind of faith that marginalises reality and drives people to begrudgingly accept the ‘fact’ that cauliflowers should be protected with machine guns and armoured cars.
Click here to explore the Donmar Warehouse Power Season
|What||The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui review|
|Where||Donmar Warehouse, 41 Earlham Street, Seven Dials, London, WC2H 9LX | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Covent Garden (underground)|
21 Apr 17 – 17 Jun 17, 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
|Price||£10 - £40|
|Website||Click here to find out more about the Mae Deli|