Was Lord Acton right? Does power corrupt?
Director Dave Herbert employs many techniques to tell Brecht’s tale. The Tarantinoesque Kill Bill-style slideshows containing chapters such as The Gods reassure Wang and the tricolour on sets and costumes representing political stances are innovative. The non-stop use of songs containing the word money to hammer the point home that money incites greed however starts to grate after a while. Similarly, the comedic vocal delivery of some of the characters whilst initially amusing becomes annoying. The play would work better as a straight drama.
Julia Bisby is terrific in the central role as Shen-Teh, a former prostitute who is given money by the Gods for a charitable act. Bisby very effectively adopts a new persona as her alter ego Shui Ta.
Jonathan Jones is also on good form as Wang who negotiates favours with the Gods, bustling around the stage anxious or exasperated.
Lynda Liddament manages to contort her body to play a widow, Mrs Shin. Adam Booth is Yang Sun, Shen-Teh’s love interest.
Most of the fun comes when tough Shui Ta talks about softer Shen-Teh with other characters. They dig themselves into a hole without realising it, but the audience is in on the joke.
Are we doomed because the world is controlled by money?