Playwright Bertolt Brecht
The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui
By Bertolt Brecht
Directed by Alec Volz
Review by Kate Barry
Entire contents are copyright © 2015 Kate Barry. All rights reserved
Humor makes even the scariest circumstances more tolerable. Turn a villain into a fool and they aren’t so intimidating anymore. The more you laugh at something, the less afraid you become. So often terrorists, criminals and tyrannical dictators are made the subject of buffoonery. Perhaps the most hated and mocked example of this is Adolf Hitler. In Bertolt Brecht’s The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, Hitler is transformed into a screeching mob boss on the prowl for power. According to director Alec Volz, the play is a “…little story about Hitler. It’s a comedy.” It’s within the confines of this comedy of cauliflower and bullies that we see how outrageous and over the top this dictator could be.
As Ui, Catherine Young is a stirring ball of energy. With wide eyes and hardly a blink, she screams and screeches through her tiny mustache. Through her exaggerated movements and delivery, she has created an over the top caricature peppered with just the right amount of a self-righteous hunger for power. And what good is a power hungry maniac without his troupe of thugs to intimidate those around them? Ann Shook plays Roma, a character satirizing Nazi militia leader Ernest Roehm, as brutish thug who is steadfast and loyal to Ui. Travis Ryan plays Emanuele Giri, based on Herman Goering. With a suspicious grin from ear to ear and creepy nasally laugh, Ryan brings a slime-ball quality to his character that is just too enjoyable to watch. Daniel Candee plays Old Dogsborough with just enough caution and weariness to make his downfall to Ui and death all the more tragic. In his interactions with Ui, Candee portrays an old man who has fallen victim to youth, in all its heartless vigor and tenacity.
As a whole, there were some great ensemble moments. Perhaps the strongest of which involved actors dressed as grocers calling and responding to each other from opposite sides of the stage. It brought Monty Python to mind. Ui’s rise to power involves a depression that devastates the cauliflower crops. At the base of this debacle are the businessmen who are heavily impacted by this. Formation and delivery transforms these actors from businessmen into a five-headed monster with comedic results. With a jaunty and toe-tappable score by Aaron Craker, these young actors were eager to present some comedy. Aaron Roitman provided a strong comedic presence as the Barker, opening and closing each act as well as providing some cheesy dance moves during musical numbers.
The events that led up to the Second World War are certainly no laughing matter, of course. Walden Theater has pieced together a production that examines a dictator’s rise to power highlighting the evil and absurdity of it all.
The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui
February 26-March 7, 2015
Walden Theatre /Blue Apple Players
Nancy Niles Sexton Stage
1125 Payne Street
Louisville, Kentucky 40206
[box_light]Kate Barry earned her Bachelors in English with a Theater minor from Bellarmine University in 2008. She has worked with many different companies around town including Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, Bunbury Theater, Louisville Repertory Company, Walden Theater, Finnigan Productions and you have probably purchased tickets from her at that little performing arts center on Main Street as well. In 2012, her short play “PlayList” won festival favorite in the Finnigan Festival of Funky Fresh Fun. She has written for Leo Weekly and TheatreLouisville.com as well. Thanks for reading![/box_light]