Man is Man

David PorterTheatre Paradisum, Norwich PlayhouseDavid Porter

"Tonight you are going to see a man reassembled like a car; leaving all his individual components just as they are..."

No surprises with Brecht. The message is always spelled out.

This is the tale of a simple worker bribed with beer and cigars to take another drunkard's place in a machine-gun troop and is deliber-ately turned into a happy killer.

It's also about knowing your identity. Against the backdrop of global conflicts today, it's relevant and timely.

The young all-female cast (another neatly Brechtian angle) tackle it with gusto and obvious relish, demonstrat-ing the characters as Brecht demanded.

Theatre Paradisum are building a credible Brechtian expertise and this early but substantial piece from the master's extensive catalogue is a quality work.

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Ashley Booth plays the central role of the naive porter who is tricked and bullied into a new identity, and she carries it with a keen sense of humour and self-parody within the central idea. She is well supported by Henri Merriam, Maria Kivinen and Louise Humphrey as the gunners. The pianist is terrific.

Lucy Enskat is powerful as the canteen proprietess, an early version of Mother Courage. Director Peter Beck's passion for Brechtian theory is put into excellent practice, in a lengthy, but rewarding, challenging evening.

David Porter