Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Warning - This Is a Dead Dog That Bites; the Beggar's Opera Has Had a Radical New Makeover, and It's En Route to a Theatre near Us. Sam Wonfor Reports

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Warning - This Is a Dead Dog That Bites; the Beggar's Opera Has Had a Radical New Makeover, and It's En Route to a Theatre near Us. Sam Wonfor Reports

Article excerpt

Byline: Sam Won

Atwisted morality tale for our times is how they're selling a radical reworking of the Beggar's Opera, which will be entertaining audiences at Northern Stage in October.

The latest production out of the distinctive stable of theatre makers, Kneehigh, the critically acclaimed Dead Dog in a Suitcase (& other love songs) promises to burst with wit, wonder and weirdness - and when a boast like that is coming from Kneehigh, you'd be silly not believe it.

Written by Carl Grose, with a new score of live music written by Charles Hazelwood, and directed by joint artistic director Mike Shepherd, Dead Dog in a Suitcase (& other love songs), the production offers the latest adaptation of John Gay's original Beggar's Opera of 1728, which was adapted in 1928 by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill as The Threepenny Opera.

Like its predecessors, Kneehigh's new version is a musical satire that holds a mirror to contemporary society - confronting big business, corrupt institutions, and urban myths. "The story of the dead dog in the suitcase is a "genuine" story," says writer Carl Grose. "Google it. It's urban myth. It's modern folklore. And that feels like what our Beggar's Opera is, too.

"If John Gay's was highwaymen, prostitutes and street thieves, ours is about the mythic underbelly of NOW - corporate conspiracy, hit men, warped Robin Hood-types, the end of civilisation, dead dogs in suitcases - all combined to create a portrait of a world hanging by a thread, in turns shocking, hilarious, heartfelt and absurd."

Music director Charles Hazlewood says it was essential to give the 'bite' back to the original songs.

"The Beggar's Opera hit an unsuspecting world like a thunderbolt in 1728: an 'opera' about the essential injustice of the world, where rich and poor are corrupt alike, yet the poor go down for it and the rich do not," he says. …

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