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The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui @ WAAPA’s Roundhouse Theatre

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17/3/14

By Matt Farsalas

As a theatre novice, my feelings on live acting and plays were mixed. A stranger to the theatre, I attended as a dreary eyed cynic, hoping the intermissions would be short, and the acts shorter. I sat down in my seat expecting torture, bracing myself for what turned out to be bliss.

To start with, the show itself was a genius take on Hitler’s rise to power in Germany. The playwright, Bertold Brecht, uses the rise and antics of cauliflower racketeer Arturo Ui as a satirical allegory for Adolf Hitler’s ascent to power. Ui and his associates corner the cauliflower trade in Chicago and, through means of force and deception, create a racket that becomes incredibly powerful. Throughout the play, strong parallels can be drawn between characters and members of the Nazi Party, making the play extremely informative as well as entertaining.

Fit for Broadway, WAAPA’s third years poured their hearts and souls into the characters they played, creating a genuineness that’s unparalleled.  The accents were on point; with authentic Chicago twangs pervading the entire cast’s vernacular.

The Italo-American and Brooklyn influences were summed perfectly by the performance of the play’s lead, who was masterful in his role of Arturo Ui. Supporting roles were also executed with the utmost rigour, using emotion and passion to manipulate the audience in an evocative ploy.

One pitfall was the extremely minor roles, which lacked the polish and authenticity of the larger roles. Sadly many of these actors came across as amateurs, overcompensating with corny Scarface accents and over-the-top acting. Thankfully this was confined to primarily small and unimportant roles meaning, for the most part, the acting was of high quality.

The final key strength of the production was the set. WAAPA made impressive use of the small stage and limited props they had available to create an atmosphere reminiscent of old school Chicago. Choice use of lighting, prime sounds effects and fluid scene changes all married together to create a setting that fully encapsulated the reality of 1930’s Chicago. ‘The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui’ is simply a marvel of theatrical genius, which, I’m happy to say, is done justice by the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts!

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