The creation of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill’s “play with music” The Threepenny Opera is as dramatic as the ground-breaking work itself. In Morag Fullerton’s hands that story becomes Mack The Knife, an Oran Mor mini musical.
The journey to stage success was rough, actors walking out in droves, a title changing weekly and a producer desirous of a quick summer season money-spinner. It isn’t until the last-minute addition of a signature tune for amoral antihero Macheath, that finally, it all falls into place. Suffused with the same wit as Fullerton’s previous adaptations of stage/screen classics Casablanca and Sunset Boulevard, it has laughter and tears, humour and pathos in spades.
The quartet of supremely talented actors, double, triple and quadruple parts and provide the musical accompaniment. The only quibble being Angela Darcy’s less than era-authentic vocals, whilst strong and clear, are a tad too cruise ship for 1920’s Berlin.
For all the humour, Fullerton reminds us of the ultimate fate of the participants. While many manage to escape the Nazi gas chambers, Kurt Gerron, actor, singer, director and original Macheath, isn’t so lucky, coerced into directing a Nazi propaganda film, when he outlives his usefulness his captors transport him to the ultimate death camp, forced to sing his signature song as he is marched to his death at Auschwitz.
Like so many of Fullarton’s works, one can only hope it has a life long after its week at Oran Mor.
You would be hard-pressed to find more bang for your buck anywhere else on the Fringe this year. Frances Thorburn, Gail Watson and Clare Waugh, (under the musical direction of the award-winning Hilary Brooks) deliver not only the Doris and Dolly of the title but Judy and Liza and just a spoonfull of a potty-mouthed Julie Andrews in Morag Fullerton’s hysterical backstage exposé of the biggest divas of the 20th Century.
Under the considerable laughs there are some fascinating glimpses into these incredible women’s lives: the tales of Garland and Minnelli show stunning similarities – gay fathers and husbands as do their’s with Doris Day, with her “enthusiastically encouraging” German mother and there’s the hugely disgruntled Julie Andrews too – thoroughly hacked-off by her goody-goody image. The only diva who has no skeletons in her closet is the irrepressible Dolly Parton – the shrewdest operator of them all.
The laughs and stories here are more than enough but what sets this show into the stratosphere are the knock-out vocals of the trio of actresses: Thorburn, Watson and Waugh are fabulously talented, but it is Watson who gets the prize for most impressive vocals with her spot on takes on Parton, Andrews and Garland.
This is a stunner of a show and you’d be a fool to miss it.
Where else could you possibly get to see Gloria Swanson, Billy Wilder, Cecil B. DeMille and William Holden on a cold, wet summer afternoon? Only at Oran Mor and only as part of A Play, A Pie and A Pint.
Morag Fullerton’s adaptation of Sunset Boulevard is part pastiche, part parody but entirely perfect re-production of the Billy Wilder classic movie. Condensed to an hour, it loses none of the tale’s darkness nor its humour and the clever framing device in which the action takes place is simply genius.
Knockout performances from the quartet of actors, John Kielty, Juliet Cadzow, Frances Thorburn and Mark McConnell make this an unmissable theatrical experience. Hopefully this little cracker will have a life beyond lunchtime theatre just as Morag Fullerton’s previous classic movie adaptation Casablanca: The Gin Joint Cut did.