BWW Review: THE THREE PENNY OPERA at Folkoperan, Stockholm
Opening night of Three Penny Opera 11th of September 2019
Already when you enter the entrance you start to wonder what will happen here. You are greeted by half naked door men who smokes, the fog is tight in the foyer where people begin to gather. Inside the theater lounge there is a bar on the stage where the audience can order something to drink. The ensemble is joining the audience as they take their seats. The audience are supposed to feel like they are part of the show. The Three Penny Opera is a classic story about poor and dirty London with beggars, thieves and a corrupt police chief, and everything is circulating around Mac the Knife (Fredrik Lycke).
This perfomance is part of the collaboration between Stadsteatern and Folkoperan. Director Mellika Melouani Melani has wanted to highlight the burlesque and there are a number of female burlesque artist who are part of the ensemble. Unfortunately it only gives it an air of cheap and poor entertainment in the way the travelling artist used to perform at major markets around Sweden several years ago. But you do not find them at the markets or fairs any more. Considering #metoo, this feels even more outdated to be set on stage. It would have been much more interesting if she had chosen to let the women become stronger and shown more guts. Unfortunately the beggers daughter Polly (Maja Rung) who secretly marries Mack the Knife is just a girl with no girlpower and is entirely driven by her lust for Mack, just like police daughter Lucy (Sanna Gibbs) who also has a relationship with Mackie. Not even when they are facing each other do they realize what a scum Mackie is, they continue to want him and to be rivals instead of get rid of Mackie. Jenny turns out to be the most interesting female character, ironically played by a man, Richard Harmin. Jenny has had a relationship with Mackie and been treated just as badly as Lucy and Polly, but she makes sure to take revenge on Mackie. The beggar king Mr. Peachum (Sven Ahlström) is a rather weak and messy beggar king. Instead it is the wife (Karolina Blixt) who takes control over the situation and has the power to act and she does what she can to get daughter Polly to leave Mackie. It is Karolina Blixt and Richard Harmin who provides us with the most powerful singing efforts during the performance, they really impress and the contrast to several of the others on stage becomes very noticeable. Without them the show would fall flat. Fredrik Lycke who plays Mack the Knive interpreted him very well as a slender and sleazy bully and he has no respect for women what so ever. Unfortunately the song material is not quite right for him with a few exceptions where he gets to sing with vigor.
The best-known song from the Three Penny Opera Opera is Mack the Knife, which is performed right at the beginning, but unfortunately it becomes rather weak and not at all as powerful as I heard it before.
The light and video technology were quite nicely done.
On several occasions during the performance the actors interact with the audience with mixed results, especially the burlesque part falls a little flat. They have a hard time getting the audience to scream and cheer more. They even have to instruct that when you see a burlesque show that you should scream and shout in order to get the artist to take off more clothes. But it does not feel like the audience is particularly interested in it as the respond is quite lame. The audience clearly has a better taste than expected. Really not modern to urge the audience to scream louder for someone to take off more clothes, have they totally missed the debate of what gang influence can do? Is that the way to use the tax money for as this theater has tax fundings? This type of "culture" will not be good just because you bring it into an established scene. Sad that you have not come any further year 2019.
Unfortunately, this is one of the less successful sets that Stadsteatern has done but not as bad so we stayed after the intermission. Or was it the complimentary banan sweets which kept us awake?
If you want to see a good musical in Stockholm you have several other options like Fiddler On the Roof, As If In Heaven, Sister Act or The Witches of Eastwick instead. The last one has not even had a premiere, but it will be better for sure.
Tickets are on sale for the period including 30th of November at