The Resistible Rise Of Arturo Ui: Satirical Comedy By Bertolt Brecht. New adaptation by Bruce Norris. Directed by Bruce McLeod. Foothill Theatre Arts, Lohman Theatre, Foothill College 12345 El Monte Rd (I‐280 & El Monte Road), Los Altos Hills, CA. 650-949-7370 or www.foothill.edu/theater.
November 8 ‐ 24, 2019
The Resistible Rise Of Arturo Ui a noble try at Foothill College.
According to Wikipedia Bertolt Brecht’s social and political goal was to perhaps to change the world. One could postulate that he was a believer of George Santayana’s aphorism “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” That conclusion seems valid since Brecht’s play The Resistible Rise Of Arturo Ui is subtitled “A parable play” and ends with the warning that all the malfeasance presented on the stage reflect “history is a show on endless repeat still in existence.”
The play that is gracing the boards at Foothill College’s intimate Lohman Theatre is a new modernized version, with vernacular language and pointed references to present and recent past events. In the original German version completed in 1941 Ui was a direct reference to Adolph Hitler and other characters and events paralleled the persons and places within the Weimar Republic.
The undertaking by director Bruce Mcleod and staff is obviously daunting and one could find specific flaws to belabor in a review. However the total effect is very satisfying with competent acting and direction intricately dovetailing with sound and lighting.
The time and place is 1930s Chicago and acting area has been converted low level joint with four café tables with chairs and some audience members sharing the tables. Members of the cast are milling about and then directly address the audience informing us that there will be corruption and murder. Arturo Ui (Anthony Silk) arrives and begins his inept machinations to rule the vegetable trade by controlling the “Cauliflower Trust” by offering them protection for a fee of course. They pass up on his offer and treat him like “horse manure.”
Ui has a henchman Ernesto Roma (Asher Krohn) to do his dirty work. When they discover that aging politician Dogsborough (George Mauro) has been accepting bribes disguised as “loans” he has found an unwilling confederate. Thus began the “rise of Arturo Ui.”
The intricacies of the relationships to the many of the plays characters is a bit confusing but all come under control of Ui. They include those that stand in his way i.e. don’t accept his bribes end up dead. Bodies drop dead frequently. The mayhem includes gunshots including machine gun fire and even poisoned flowers.
One of the most charming (if you call it that) scenes involve a wash-upped alcoholic Shakespearean actor “hired” to teach Ui how to speak, walk and even sit. To demonstrate his ability to adapt Ui gives an atrocious reading of Brutus’ speech from the play “Julius Caesar.”
There is reference to immigration becoming rampant thus causing an increase in crime and paraphrasing: “There is a need to build a wall and I am the only one who can provide it.”
Greed becomes rampant and even the judge in a trial scene accepts bribes handing out verdicts favorable to Ui. But Ui is not content with controlling Chicago he annexes Cicero. When he cannot “buy” honest an newspaper man to write favorably the newsmen ends up dead.
There is scene after scene of bodies piling up and at one time Ui is asked “Why did you kill him—he kept his mouth shut?” The unspoken implication is “Because I could.”
The final scenes display the depth of Ui’s ambition when he announces that he will capture America beginning with “Flint, Scranton etc. and then New York.”
There are many individual accolades to distribute but this reviewer had difficulty identifying specific actors/characters. That should not dissuade you from attending since the overall production and Bertolt Brecht deserve an audience.
Running time is about two hours and 30 minutes with an intermission.
CAST: Anthony Silk (Arturo Ui), Margaret Allen (Betty Dullfeet, Sheet, and Actor), Denna Basto (Dockdaisy), Kathy Blumenfeld (Evelyn O’Casey), Dominic Dee (Gangster), Chayenne Greenberg (Ragg), Parker Hough (Caruther), Seth Goyal (Manny Giri), Asher Krohn (Ernesto Roma), Emma Rose Le (Young Dogsborough) Jessica Kopang (Flake, Public Defender), Rafael Luna (Bodyguard), George Mauro (Dogsborough), Hannah Milon (Inna), Teddy Pagee (Clark), Mark Rosen (Ignatius Dullfeet), Miles Cook (Giovanni Givola), Brittany Williams (Butcher).
CREATIVE TEAM: Director, Bruce McLeod; Assistant Director, Carla Befera; Dialect Coach, Kimily Conkle; Scenic Designer, Lynn Grant; Costume Designer, Kathleen Qiu; Lighting Designer, Dan Wadleigh; Sound Designer, Max Stanylov; Properties Designer, Scott Farnworth; Stage Manager, Olivier Matheny-Plamondon; Assistant Stage Manager, Minami Hisamatsu; Lighting Board Operator, Kandee Lo; Sound Board Operator, Lior Pearl; Wardrobe Supervisor, Lisa Rozman. Dresser, Hannah Edel.
Kedar K. Adour, MD
Courtesy of www.theatreworldim2.com.