This was my first visit to the new HOME arts centre theatre in Manchester so I was looking forward to this production with what has to be the most curious title.
The Kneehigh Theatre Group has brilliantly re-worked John Gay’s classic musical satire, The Beggar’s Opera, to create Dead Dog in a Suitcase which serves up a theatrical onslaught on the themes of urban myths, greed and corruption, and confronting big business and institutions.
You’re invited into an upside-down, unsettling world which presents us with a roll call of dodgy wheeler-dealers, a cold-blooded killer, and various weirdos, including a pair of Punch and Judy puppets unlike any you’ve ever seen before.
The live music by Charles Hazelwood blends hip hop, folk, psychedelia, ska, grime, and dubstep, to create a powerful musical mix in this production written by Carl Grose and directed by Mike Shepherd.
The tale unfolds with the aid of sinister Punch & Judy puppetry and tightly-choreographed dance numbers. The cast climbs up or slides down Michael Vale’s vast scaffolding-style set and Malcolm Rippeth’s lighting design bathes the stage in block colours of red or blue to ratchet up the atmosphere. Suffice to say this is definitely a show that needs to be seen rather than described.
The cast of 13 strikes the perfect balance between cartoon caricature and seriousness. Everyone gives Hazelwood’s live score a bruising vocal punch too, especially the low-class double act of Rina Catania as Mrs Peachum and Martin Hyder as Les Peachum. Look out for Dominic Marsh who makes his mark playing charismatic baddie Macheath.
Praise for Rina Fatania with her stand-out, larger-than-life, gin-swilling performance. Machiavellian Mrs Peachum has her comedy moments as well as being evil.
Following a big success at Liverpool Everyman, Dead Dog in a Suitcase has created a buzz and been singled out for lavish praise on social media.
You can see Dead Dog in a Suitcase at HOME, starting at 7:30pm, until Saturday 26th September. There is also a matinee performance starting at 2.30pm on Saturday.
Ticket prices starting from £10 are available online from http://homemcr.org or call the Box Office on: 0161 200 1500
(Pic: Dominic Marsh as Macheath in Dead Dog in a Suitcase at Home, Manchester. Photo by Steve Tanner)