During the 1923 premiere of Bertolt Brecht’s early play, ‘In the Jungle of Cities’, Nazi supporters chucked stink bombs onto the stage. I’m no fascist, but based on this revival I can’t say I blame them. This is a black hole of a play and a wearying test of endurance.
It is set in a ‘mythical metropolis’, namely Chicago. One day, Shlink (Jeffery Kissoon), a wealthy lumber merchant, enters a lending library and offers to buy young Garga’s opinion on a book. Garga (Joseph Arkley), hungry but idealistic, refuses. An epic battle of wills ensues, as the capitalist and idealist fight to the death.
Director Peter Sturm’s production is certainly eccentric. Most characters enter the stage on their knees, some dart about like cockroaches and a violent sexual energy lingers. Ladies scrawl lipstick over their faces and men expose a little too much pubic hair.
But there’s little shape, sense or authority to this (very) difficult show. Scenes slide by in a blur, adding nothing. There is some sharp acting, particularly from Jurgen Schwarz as a reptilian henchman and Mia Austen as Garga’s brittle, burnt out wife. But Arkley and Kissoon’s central performances lack definition. Brecht’s angry words tumble out in great floods but make little impact.
By Miriam Gillinson
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Average User Rating
4.5 / 5
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Not for everyone but two stars is down right mean, yes not an easy evening and it is demanding but a fine production and the poetry comes through just fine
A friend and I attended IN THE JUNGLE OF CITIES on Thursday night (19 Sept). I must say it was one of the most powerful and unsettling evenings I've known in the theatre. Ms Gillinson must have had the misfortune of being there on a bad night; Brecht isn't for everyone, admittedly, but this is a worthy production.