- Kate Herbert
- From: Herald Sun
- April 08, 2011 11:06AM
Friday, 8 April 2011
Baal, Malthouse Theatre, April 8, 2011
Baal, Malthouse Theatre **
IT rains on stage in Baal. A lot. And when you're admiring the plumbing instead of the show, something is amiss.
The cast has talent and works very hard in this adaptation of Bertolt Brecht's little-performed first play (1918).
This production, directed by Simon Stone (Thyestes) and translated by Stone and Tom Wright, does little to redeem its reputation with an uninspired adaptation.
Stone makes it relevant and contemporary, placing Brecht's dissolute anti-hero in urban 21st-century settings and using modern language and music.
In this production, Baal (Thomas M. Wright) is a pop idol, a guitar-wielding thug with a conga-line of fawning fans. But this Baal lacks the dangerous magnetism of a successful villain.
There is plenty of youthful flesh on show -- the cast is frequently partially or fully nude -- and it's a lurid piece with sexual references, simulated sex between men and women or men and men, violence, screaming, boozing, swearing, madness and death. Not too cheerful but also not managing to shock or disturb.
This production commits the worst sin -- it's dull, lacking subtlety, substance and intensity, cohesion and clarity.
BAAL, Malthouse Theatre, until April 23, 2011
Stars: * *