Frances Beatty previews The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui
A recession is looming. Inflation is rampant. House prices are free-falling. No, this is not Ireland 2008. It’s 1930s Chicago.
The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui is opening at The Abbey this November. It is a play by Bertolt Brecht, originally written in 1941. It chronicles the rise of Arturo Ui, a small time hoodlum in 1930s Chicago who takes advantage of the economic downturn to seize control of the “Cauliflower Trust.”
The play satirises Hitler’s rise to power in Germany, which is paralleled to that of Ui. As well as the protagonist, all the characters in the play have real-life counterparts. Ui’s henchman, Ernesto Roma represents Ernst Röhm, The Cauliflower Trust the Prussian Junkers and so on.
The play was written during Brecht’s three week exile in Helsinki, as he was awaiting a visa that would finally allow him to escape Germany for the US. Interestingly, Brecht never intended the play to reach a German audience and wrote it specifically for the American stage.
For all you third year English students doing the Shakespeare course, this is a good one to see. Brecht uses frequent references to Shakespeare. To highlight Ui’s evil manipulation of power, he is compared to Richard III in both the prologue and a scene in which he experiences visitations from the ghosts of his victims just as Richard does.
The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui opens at The Abbey on 11 November and runs until 6 December