Get a personalised letter from Santa

REVIEW: Turandot/ The Whitewashers’ Congress, Hampstead Theatre

PUBLISHED: 14:47 24 September 2008 | UPDATED: 15:24 07 September 2010

Two star rating Brecht never completed Turandot, his last play, a political comedy. But now Edward Kemp has translated the text and bridged the gaps to create this British premiere, some 50 years after the German playwright s death. An admirable feat a

Two star rating

Brecht never completed Turandot, his last play, a political comedy. But now Edward Kemp has translated the text and bridged the gaps to create this British premiere, some 50 years after the German playwright's death.

An admirable feat and an exciting prospect, then.

Sadly, slapstick humour and Christmas cracker-style jokes have turned this production into a confusing pantomime. It's a pity when the cast can only be praised for their energy and engaging performances.

The premise of the play - the use and abuse of intellect by those in power and those with an eye on their own advancement - still resonates today.

These themes are explored in an Oriental setting.

The emperor of China is facing bankruptcy due to the falling price of cotton.

To remedy the problem, he is advised to create a shortage by hiding large quantities of the commodity in his warehouses.

While this boosts the royal coffers, it creates even greater hardship for the already downtrodden masses.

The emperor, fabulously played by Gerard Murphy, resumes his life of indulgence while all around him there is increasing unrest from his poverty-stricken subjects.

As they rise up against him, the emperor's answer is not benevolence but to command his spin doctors to come up with a suitable line to explain away the cotton's disappearance.

Empty, uninspiring speeches follow that are as worthy of your attention as those presented by many of today's political white-washers, paid to churn out soothing words in the wake of a public enquiry.

There are some moving moments in Anthony Clarke's production but they are few and far between.

Despite the valiant efforts of the well-cast actors, Turandot is largely unsatisfying and at times the script is just plain tedious.

Until October 4.

Jo Cooke

Latest Hampstead & Highgate Stories

10:00

Harry Redknapp is currently taking part in the latest series of I’m A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here!

09:11

A man has died after a fire broke out in a first floor flat on Brassey Road in West Hampstead.

09:18

Highgate’s historic Prince of Wales pub has temporarily closed for a £250,000 refurbishment but its new manager has moved to allay fears that the traditional boozer will lose its character.

Yesterday, 17:22

England boss Gareth Southgate has hailed Harry Kane after the Spurs forward grabbed a late winner to send the impressive Three Lions through to the UEFA Nations League finals.

Yesterday, 16:15

England hosted Croatia at Wembley in the UEFA Nations League on Sunday. Read on for Layth Yousif’s match report.

Yesterday, 16:09

Arsenal maintained their 100 per cent FA WSL record with a 4-0 win over Everton in Southport.

Yesterday, 15:58

England hosted Croatia at Wembley in the UEFA Nations League on Sunday. Read on for Layth Yousif’s PLAYER RATINGS

Yesterday, 15:51

Hendon made their longest ever League trip, to Tiverton on Saturday, and returned to London with a point from a goalless stalemate.

Most read Hampstead & Highgate etcetera

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now