A reviews round-up forThe Good Person of Szechwan, covering the Sheffield Theatres premiere, and its run at the Lyric Theatre in Hammersmith from 15 April 2023.
This 80th anniversary production of Brecht’s The Good Person of Szechwan was commissioned by English Touring Theatre, and is brought up to date in a new version by Nina Segal, directed by Anthony Lau.
The production opened at Sheffield Theatres this March and transfers to the Lyric Hammersmith in London in April.
The cast features Nick Blakeley (Third God), Melody Brown (Mrs Mi Tzu/Old Woman), Aidan Cheng (Yang Sun), Jon Chew (Lin To/Shu Fu), Callum Coates (First God), Togo Igawa(Husband/Priest/Court Clerk), Camille Mallet de Chauny (Jobless Man/Policeman/Cousin), Louise Mai Newberry (Mrs Yang/Wife), Tim Samuels (Second God), Ami Tredrea (Shen Te/Shui Ta), Leo Wan (Wang) and Suni La (Mrs Shin).
The Good Person of Szechwan. Photo by Manuel Harlan
The creative team includes Georgia Lowe (design), Jessica Hung Han Yun (lighting), Jacob Sparrow (casting), DJ Walde (composer), Alexandra Faye Braithwaite (Sound), Carrie-Anåne Ingrouille (Movement Director),Jason Ahn (Associate Lighting Director), Tara Young (Associate Movement Director), and Lexine Lee (Assis.tant Director).
The Good Person of Szechwan runs at the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre in London from 15 April to 13 May 2023.
Book tickets to The Good Person of Szechwan at Lyric Hammersmith
UPDATED: Originally posted 21 March 2023. Updated to include London reviews
The Good Person of Szechwan reviews
"Brecht’s parable gets a bold revamp" (Crucible, Sheffield)
"Anthony Lau brings rich cultural authenticity to the stinging China-set capitalist critique – as well as slides and giant frogs"
"Anthony Lau’s bold, kaleidoscopic production for Sheffield Theatres shows how all our lives are enriched when the multiplicity of our artists is recognised and valued. Dundee-born of Chinese heritage, Lau draws on the cultural palette of his upbringing for this never less than entertaining new staging of Bertolt Brecht’s 1941 parable."
"Lau also pays homage to Brecht’s desire to alienate his audience... The result is that we feel unanchored and not always safe in the hands of the storytellers"
"Ping! Brecht reimagined as an arcade game" (Crucible, Sheffield)
"In the director Anthony Lau’s hands, Nina Segal’s update of Bertolt Brecht’s 80-year-old morality play is a sparky pop satire for a dozen actors who gamely juggle double that number of roles. The jocular, often cartoonishly quirky manner in which they deliver Segal’s snappy, vernacular script undercuts Brecht’s didactic tendencies. The result is wacky but barbed entertainment, sometimes wayward but consistently likeable."
"The cast maintains an agreeable collective balance even when things tip over into the ridiculous, or feel drawn-out or heavy-handed."
"Timely Brecht revival with cartoonish characters but moreish designs" (Crucible, Sheffield)
"The characters are too broadly drawn in this 80th-anniversary staging of Brecht's cost-of-living drama – but boy, does it make the eyes pop"
"It’s a smart time for a revival of Bertolt Brecht’s classic about “love and capitalism and survival”, as Nina Segal’s new translation succinctly puts it."
"Anthony Lau’s fun, frenetic production often remains surface in its engagement. It is bold and bright to look at – Georgia Lowe’s design is relentlessly inventive, featuring ball-pools, hot-pink slides and giant cigarettes, even if there’s not always clear reasoning for these zany choices."
"The acting style seems designed to match. Cartoonish and over-inflated, it aims for a farce-like pace and gag-rate. For me, not enough laughs landed"
"Lots of fun" (Crucible, Sheffield)
"Brecht with an inventive twist"
"Any director reviving a play by Bertolt Brecht faces the challenge of how to produce a fresh adaptation while remaining true to Brechtian convention. Anthony Lau’s bold and inventive production, which marks this work’s 80th anniversary, features the Brechtian hallmarks of direct address, lighting and scene changes that never let you forget you are in a theatre – and plenty of songs. But what makes it memorable is the way in which Nina Segal’s translation leans into the surreal and absurd."
"Ami Tredrea is excellent as Shen Te and, in the one song where she takes the lead vocal, also sings quite beautifully. Leo Wan gives a soulful performance as Wan the water seller"
"It is incredibly fast-paced, and a lot of fun, but you sometimes wish things would slow down slightly to give the material a bit of room to breathe"
"Slick, kitsch and buckets of fun" (Lyric Hammersmith)
"There’s a distinctive feel to Lyric Hammersmith shows that’s like nothing you’ll find at other London theatres"
"Slick, kitsch, European-influenced and deeply surreal – there’s a distinctive feel to Lyric Hammersmith shows under current boss Rachel O’Riordan that’s like nothing you’ll find at other London theatres."
"Director Anthony Lau and translator Nina Segal take a loose, playful approach that fuses the texture of a modern Chinese street scene with the free-wheeling silliness of an adventure playground, while designer Georgia Lowe’s set design is guaranteed to induce childish glee."
"This production’s atmosphere of pre-school anarchy softens the harshness of the original’s message, a little. But it still gently speaks to today, while leaving its themes tantalisingly unresolved, just as Brecht did."
"A thrillingly bold, high-energy new take on the classic Brecht play" (Lyric Hammersmith)
"Nina Segal’s translation of Brecht is bold, sweary and blunt, unpicking the irony of the play’s title: in a world ruled by money, there’s no room for ‘good’, other than as a naïve dream."
"The ensemble cast steps up to the play’s heightened tenor – and karaoke-style interludes – with ease, often playing multiple roles."
"At times, the loudness of the surrealist humour becomes relentless, breaking the pace. But Brecht’s parable still lands its ending as it challenges us to be better – not ‘good’."