The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui

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Previewed 18 September 2013, Opened 25 September 2013, Closed 7 December 2013 at the Duchess Theatre in London

A major revival of Bertolt Brecht's The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui in London starring Henry Goodman in the title role and directed by Jonathan Church.

Chicago in the 1930s, the Great Depression - a time of unemployment, fear and corruption, and the perfect time for a small-fry crime boss and his henchmen to make it big, to seize a greater power, an absolute power.

Arturo Ui and his mob of gangsters run protection rackets for both workers and businesses. Soon Ui's menacing shadow looms large, from the markets, to the docks and across the city itself. You might be with him, you might be against him - it certainly seems you can't stop him.

The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui is a funny, sharp and thrilling take on the rise of Hitler shot through with razor-sharp wit.

The cast for this production of The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui in London features Henry Goodman as 'Arturo Ui', Michael Feast, William Gaunt and Joe McGann along with Keith Baxter and Lizzy McInnerny. Presented in a translation by George Tabori, revised by Alistair Beaton, it is directed by Jonathan Church with designs by Simon Higlett, lighting by Tim Mitchell, sound by Mike Walker and music by Matthew Scott. This production was originally presented at the Minerva Studio at the Chichester Festival Theatre in East Sussex in July 2012.

"It is Henry Goodman's astonishing performance as Arturo himself that really makes this production. Sometimes he's Richard III, sometimes he's Woody Allen, sometimes Al Pacino, sometimes even Jim Carrey. His body language is extraordinary, his gift for slapstick and physical comedy a joy... Other notables are Joe McGann as the gangster Giri (Goring), Michael Feast as the evil Ernesto Roma and William Gaunt as the aged Dogsborough (Hindenburg). Simon Higlett's rather grim, colourless set and the stark lighting certainly add to the Depression-era feel, and the comedian Alistair Beaton's revision of the translation by George Tabori keeps the sprightly blank verse of the original, with multiple Shakespearean and other literary echoes. Whether these quite qualify as bona fide jokes is debatable... This production often feels like a long, wordy plod, interrupted by some brilliant scenes... But for Goodman's brilliant performance alone, it's worth seeing." The Sunday Times (2013)

"History has given us two iconic portrayals of Adolf Hitler: Charlie Chaplin's clown act in The Great Dictator and Bruno Ganz's raging tyrant in the film Downfall... There are shades of both in Henry Goodman's mesmerising performance in the title role of Bertolt Brecht's political allegory where the Führer is depicted as a Chicago gangster taking over the city's lucrative cauliflower trade... Personally I have a problem with political allegory. This one is so busy labouring the parallels between the gangster story and the rise of Hitler that it's hard to believe in them as Chicago hoods and you wish they'd stop banging on about cauliflowers. It doesn't help that the play is written in a mixture of blank verse and rhyming couplets that many of the hard-working cast struggle to escape." The Daily Express (2013)

"This is, as it should be, terrifying... Brecht wrote it in 1941 as a parable of the rise of Hitler, satirically set among Chicago gangsters cornering the cauliflower trade. It is a deliberately comic vegetable... Arturo Ui is Henry Goodman, and from his first eruption through a Scarface movie poster, he is different, dangerous... Brecht's Führer is no superman but a schmuck, a little man: the message is that his progress should have been resistible, even with the Depression economics established in the gangsters' chat. George Tabori's translation, tweaked by our own satirist Alistair Beaton, makes the paradox clear: uncertainty, fear and laziness can promote bad leaders who then become immovable." The Times (2012)

"What is the secret of Brecht's survival? In part, the fact that he wrote great roles for actors. Arturo Ui, a murderous Chicago racketeer who evokes Adolf Hitler and echoes Richard III, stands alongside Mother Courage and Galileo as one of the juiciest roles in the dramatic canon. In Jonathan Church's breathtaking revival, it gets a performance of memorable comic demonism from Henry Goodman... This is a classic Brechtian performance, one in which we relish the actor's technique while absorbing the points it is making. What Goodman shows, aided by Alistair Beaton's shrewd tweaking of George Tabori's translation, is how Ui moves from nerdy thug to raging tyrant through a mixture of intimidatory violence, economic collapse and oppositional failure... There is fine work from Michael Feast as a vehement mobster, Joe McGann as a hatchet-faced thug and Lizzy McInnerny as Ui's powerless female prey." The Guardian (2012)

"You simply can't take your eyes off him. From the moment Henry Goodman's Arturo Ui bursts into view through an old film poster of Scarface to make his limelight-stealing entrance, spitting away the ripped paper residue from his face, he is horribly, hypnotically watchable. Goodman takes his customary finesse to another level in his hyper-detailed account of a Thirties American mobster who is unmistakably Adolf Hitler, as viewed through Bertolt Brecht's satirical lens circa 1941. His tour de force performance sketches not just step by step but almost line by line the growth of a grasping upstart into a near-unassailable megalomaniac. Director Jonathan Church hasn't missed a trick in casting him and Goodman doesn't miss a tic... William Gaunt brings a wonderful pained gravity to the compromised Dogsborough and further topnotch support comes from Michael Feast as the hatchetfaced Roma and Joe McGann as the ruthless Giri." The Daily Telegraph (2012)

The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui in London at the Duchess Theatre previewed from 18 September 2013, opened on 25 September 2013 and closed on 7 December 2013.