This afternoon I attended the Lantern Theater Company’s matinée performance of Bertolt Brecht’s The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui.
Brecht used the Chicago gangster milieu of the 1920s to show how Hitler (and by extension, any authoritarian dictator) could so easily rise to power. The play was very well acted and directed, as I would expect no less from the Lantern Company, but it just didn’t grab me the way I think it was meant to.
I think that was partly because Brecht is just too heavy-handed and partly because I’ve seen things like this done so often. So yes, when Arturo Ui (pronounced OO-ie) wants to learn a more refined way of walking, he ends up doing something that looks very much like a goose-step. The “UI” banners that are unfurled at his ascendancy look very much like swastikas. Etc.
But there were two surprises in the cast. First of all, the fellow playing Roma looked extremely familiar; I was sure I had seen him on TV. Sure enough, when I checked the program during intermission, I saw that The Wire was one of his credits, and I realized he had played one of the detectives. I’ve seen him in a few other things as well. Oh, yeah, his name is Brian Anthony Wilson.
Then the fellow playing Butcher looked even more familiar. As in I’ve seen that guy at a store where I shop very often. His name is Gregory Isaac, and I’m reasonably sure he works on and off at a retail place that I frequent. If it is him, it would certainly explain why there are often long periods when I don’t see him and why he frequently changes his appearance; a full beard for a while, then clean shaven, then a small goatee. Anyway, the employees at that store wear name tags, so the next time I see him, I’ll check to see if his name is Greg or Gregory. If it is, I’ll probably say something like, “Mr. Butcher, I presume” or something equally hokey.