REVIEW: The Good Person of Szechuan by BERTOLT BRECHT

Brecht play is for goodness’ sake

By Myron My

The Good Person of Szechuan, directed by Laurence Strangio is a theatrical parable by Bertolt Brecht being performed at La Mama. The play has the typical conventions of Brecht: the audience interaction, the direct speaking to the viewers, symbolic props and the opportunity for the unique use of the stage – and if you have been to La Mama before you will be amazed to see how it has been transformed.

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The play, as with many of Brecht’s works, has a profound social statement to make, this time about what is good, how do we become good and more importantly who decides who is good. Furthermore, it looks at various addictions such as tobacco, heroin and selfishness. Despite the frenetic nature of the play and at times, its absurdist humour and fantastical nature, the themes explored are done so with care and honesty.

The cast (Marc Lawrence, James Deeth, Carmelina Di Guglielmo, Zoe Ellerton-Ashley, Terry Yeboah and HaiHa Le) portray a total of 25 characters which adds to the intensity of Brecht’s work. Most likely due to my attending on a preview night, there were some characters that feel more authentic and fleshed-out than others but the passion from the actors is constant so I was only too willing to overlook this. I was impressed with Di Guglielmo’s portrayals of both God 2 and Mrs Shin, and with Yeboah’s characterisation of Yang Sun especially.

HaiHa Le has the difficult task of depicting Shen Te the prostitute and Shui Ta the cousin, and does particularly well in portraying the innocence and goodness of the former.

There are so many thought-provoking scenes in this play and with a running time of almost two and a half hours, an intermission would have been a nice break. This was apparent especially towards the end where the pace slows down a bit and the exhaustion of what has transpired begins to make itself felt on the audience.

The preview night performance of The Good Person of Szechuan was thoroughly enjoyable and provoked much discussion with the issues it covered and its solid ensemble casting.

Venue: La Mama Courthouse, 349 Drummond St, Carlton

Season: Until 26 May | Wed 6:30pm, Thu-Sat 8:30pm, Sun 6:30pm, Wed 1:00pm (except May 8) and Thurs 11am.

Tickets: $25 Full | $15 Conc

Bookings: http://lamama.com.au or 9347 6948

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