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Described by Brecht as ‘a gangster play that would recall certain events familiar to us all’, Arturo Ui is a witty and savage satire of the rise of Hitler – recast by Brecht into a fictional, small-time Chicago gangster’s takeover of the city’s greengrocery trade in the 1930s. The satirical allegory combines Brecht’s Epic style of theatre with black comedy and overt didacticism.
Using a wide range of parody and pastiche – from Al Capone to Shakespeare’s Richard III and Goethe’s Faust – Brecht’s compelling parable continues to have relevance wherever totalitarianism appears today.
Written during the Second World War in 1941, the play was one of the Berliner Ensemble’s most outstanding box-office successes in 1959, and has continued to attract a succession of major actors, including Leonard Rossiter, Christopher Plummer, Antony Sher and Al Pacino.
This version of The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui is by Canadian theatre academic Jennifer Wise.
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