Photos Reviews

The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui

May 2001

by Berthold Brecht, directed by Ian Potts


Arturo Ui - Roger Matthewson

Ernesto Roma - Gordon Halliday

Guiseppe Givola - Maggie Butt

Emanuelle Giri - Peter King

Bodyguard 1 - John Calendar

Bodyguard 2 - Elliott Woodford

Bodyguard 3 - Jason West

Young Inna - Elliott Woodford

Dockdaisy (Gangster's Moll) - Anna Gander

The Businessmen: -

Flake - Stewart Price

Caruther - Bryan Stephenson

Butcher - Brian Bowker

Mulberry - Ben Grimsey

Clark - Cass Thorne

Sheet (Ship Yard Owner) - David Batty

Bowl (Sheet's Asssistant) - Rosie Stuttard

City Hall Types: -

Old Dogsborough - John Marshall

Young Dog - Louise Morin

Goodwill - Rose Gander

Gaffles - Sheila Wall

The Rest: -

Announcer - Nick Jones

Ted Ragg - Tim Burgess

Actor - Tim Burgess

O'Casey - Keith Palmer

Fish - Keith Palmer

Hook - David Batty

Defence - Chris Williams

Pastor - Chris Williams

Prosecution - Rose Gander

Judge - Harold Revill

Doctor - Tini Kay

Butler - Tini Kay

Woman - Cally Pettit

Mr Dullfleet - Stewart Price

Mrs Dullfleet - Mary Jones

Dead Body - Rosie Stuttard

Chicagoans - Ensemble

Ciceronians - Ensemble

Reporters - Ensemble

Vegetable Dealers - Ensemble

Production Team:

Director - Ian Potts

Assistant Director - Maggie Butt

Lighting - Aleksis Gailans

Sound - Ron Murray

Design - Philip Keen

Costumes - Isla Morgan

Props - Sylvia Brace, Mary Collins & Rosie Stuttard

Music - Geoffrey Brace

Prompt - Jean Halliday

Make-up - Holly Shakespeare

Front of House - Mary Jones

Publicity - Sandra Barrett

Posters - Philip Keen

Programme - Philip Keen, Maggie Butt & Annette Ladbrook


From Estuary News:

...Ian Pott's direction was extremely powerful...

The Irresistible Rise of the Estuary Players

Brecht wrote The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui in 1941. It is a savage, often funny but even more often, chilling story of a small-time Chicago gangster whose rise to absolute power in the greengrocery protection business paralleled Hitler's own career in Germany in the 1930s. Most amateur companies would be wise to stay away from a play as serious and challenging as this, particularly as Brecht was so specific about his own 'alienation' philosophy of the theatre, demanding emotional detachment so that his social and political messages could be presented clearly unfogged by sentimentality.

But once again, Estuary Players have taken on the challenge and succeeded superbly. (Mind you, it would have to be a very brave critic who dared to say otherwise in a community like Topsham ... but I really do mean it!).

Ian Pott's direction was extremely powerful and opened with Geoffrey Brace playing sleazy music on the Matthew's Hall 'joanna' which immediately took us all into smoky downtown Chicago. Men in black suits and trilbies - or possibly fedoras - smoked cigars and cracked jokes with the audience. That was the only part of the production I felt doubtful about - actors need to be completely and confidently in character in order to interact so closely with their audience, and it seemed that they had not quite got into their stride this early on. (It worked beautifully in the interval, however, when the bodyguards handed out 'Ui' stickers and the audience meekly stuck them into their lapels and handbags. We would probably all have been Nazis if Hitler had told us to be).

The production stayed true to the ideal of alienation and we were constantly reminded of the Hitler parallels by projected texts which gave us the historical facts about Germany as Ui pursued his resistible rise to terror, corruption and betrayal. As soon as Nick Jones spoke the Prologue, we were firmly back in downtown Chicago and watching many excellent individual performances. Once again, however, the teamwork of the whole company was remarkable. All the same, I have to single out Roger Matthewson's portrayal of Arturo Ui. The slightly effeminate, sexy, magnetic character he created had all the hypnotic magnetism I understand Hitler to have had. It was frightening and I cannot imagine how it could be bettered.

Nevertheless, the rest of the company were up to him and Maggie Butt's sex change into one of Ui's henchmen was startlingly impressive. One of my favourite moments was Ui's tango with Mrs Dullfleet (Mary Jones), which carried a mixture of hilarity and horror. Although Roger Matthewson was an undoubted star, he never dimmed or dulled the others. Estuary Players seemed to have reached a peak of excellence that they have sustained through at least their last four productions. This will be a hard act to follow.

- Reviewed by: Sara Vernon


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