Threepenny Commentary

I happened to catch Gustavus’ production of Kurt Weill’s Threepenny Opera this weekend. While it was a great production with good sets, good acting, and good singing, it also left somewhat of a bad taste in my mouth. Instead of allowing the story to tell itself, the directors of the play decided to infuse it with the some anti-corporate rhetoric that seemed to have little to do with the substance of the play. While the play can certainly be seen as a critique of capitalism (although even that is potentially debatable) the random use of advertisements outside the period and corporate logos were completely extraneous to the play.

During the third act, in which the poor of London are about to protest Queen Victoria’s coronation, one person holds up a large sign reading "STOP GLOBALIZATION." First of all, the concept of globalization doesn’t belong in the period of the play, and sticks out like a sore thumb. Second, it’s a cheap shot. Finally, a recent study just revealed that globalization reduces child labor in countries like Vietnam. One wonders if the anti-corporate posturing is based on actual fact, or a desire to just go along with the liberal groupthink.

It’s sad that the play wasn’t allowed to stand on its own – it was a very well done play, and I still enjoyed it immensely. However, if you’re going to try and make a salient commentary on social issues, taking cheap shots and never backing them up is hardly the way to do it.