Storyhouse: The Beggar’s Opera

The Beggar’s Opera

Until August 18

Storeyhouse, Chester


At long last, here we are in this lovely new building, with the novelty of so many excellent productions.And they may say beggars can’t be choosers but here’s a choice version being served up, if a touch on the Pantomime side – even to a Dame; tons of local references too.

In Glyn Maxwell’s version, MacHeath may be a valuable asset for crooked Peachum but once he starts eyeing up delectable daughter, Polly, Daddy dear wants him shutting up, for good, plotting his downfall (ie from the end of a rope), with the aid of equally dodgy Lockitt. Meanwhile, his daughter Lucy is with child, and you’ll never guess who by…oh you did.

It’s all very underhand, and over the top, on a virtually bare stage with the virtuoso cast displaying their musical talemts with a mini orchestra at the back. And they make good, if perilous use of all the space, including gallery, stalls and pit. Action being so fast paced, that and dialogue are apt to be incoherent at times. Song and dance however are well executed, particularly the former, and particularly with Polly and Lucy, whether as rivals or co-conspirators. In the first instance, their duel is exquisite.

As are the dark, treacly tones of Alex Mugnaioni as Macheath, a dastardly villain who turns out to be most appealing largely through his appeals to the audience. Interestingly, Daniel Goode is equally villainous but exceptionally sinister as Peachum, with his scornful distate for his longsuffering wife (Charlotte Gorton) and his distasteful adoration of ditsy daughter (Charlotte Miranda-Smith). Then you haveSimple Simon aka Jonathan Dryden Taylor’s Lockitt, as much under Peachum’s grubby thumb as the meek cleark, Filch (Baker Mukasa). Mention must also go to stalwart Tom Connor, shining in two completely diffferent roles, the aforementioned Dame, Suky Tawdry and the very posh Ben Budge.

A powerful opening number, vulgar yet charming, it was altogether very jolly, rollicking along, and it was good to see the theatre so well attended a long time after the opening. Yes, once upon a time, and for far, far too long a time, Chester has had to get by with few creative outlets. But here’s to a never ending happy ending with Storeyhouse – packed full of goodies.


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