Comment: MAHAGONNY-Songspiel, Barrie, Ont

by Lynn on September 16, 2021

in The Passionate Playgoer

Live, in person in the parking lot behind Bohemia Café in Barrie, Ont. until Sept. 18,

Libretto by Bertolt Brecht

Musical composition by Kurt Weil

Directed by Richard Ouzounian

Musical direction by Stephan Ermel

Costumes by Kathleen Black

Sound by Matt Dawson

Cast: Dillan Chiblow

Beau Dixon

Jacob MacInnis

Justan Myers

Justin Stadnyk

Jennifer Stewart.

Because this was a preview I am only commenting not formally reviewing. That said, everything about this endeavor was terrific—bracing, unsettling, honest, true and beautifully presented and directed.

Director Richard Ouzounian writes in his program note: “Mahagonny is a mythical American city where people live for greed, lust and violence. Brecht and Weill created it in 1927. It’s astonishing—and more than a bit frightening—to see how much it resembles the world of 2021.”

The piece—Mahagonny-Songspeil is only 30 minutes long and is a precursor to the more extended show Mahagonny. But this show of 11 songs and comment between songs that is pure Brecht, gives you the sharp flavour of what the show is like and what the extended version is as well.

They sing of violence, greed, graft, the underbelly of society, a time and feeling of brutality and abrasiveness. The cast of six and their music director enter dressed (for the most part) in black leather, studs, fishnet stockings, flowing frocks, if that, and also wear black makeup (eye-shadow, eye-liner, Goth-like). The look in many cases is androgynous or gender fluid. Perfect.

The singing by the whole group is excellent, beautifully harmonized and compelling. The cast puts us on notice. We sit mesmerized. It is performed in the parking lot behind a café known as BOHEMIA CAFÉ (how perfect is that?) there was a half-moon over the Bay in Barrie. How perfect is that?

There is no final bow of the singers. And that is perfect too. They sent us a serious message about our world. We don’t then get up close and touchy-feely with a bow of appreciation that will break the tone and change the atmosphere. We can take it. No bow. Perfect. Thank you.

Produced by Talk is Free Theatre.

Plays until: Sept. 18, 2021.

Running time: 30 minutes.

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