The Beggar's Opera, Norwich

CHRISTOPHER SMITH The Beggar's Opera is unsinkable. The parody of Italian operatic styles has faded away, the political satire has lost its bite, even the quips about women's wiles have gone out of fashion.

CHRISTOPHER SMITH

The Beggar's Opera is unsinkable.

The parody of Italian operatic styles has faded away, the political satire has lost its bite, even the quips about women's wiles have gone out of fashion. But the tunes remain, in endless succession and always to the point, the excuse for dozens of short solos, for a few duets and for some rousing choruses.

Under the direction of Colin Goodchild, who also plays the keyboards, the three string players supply all the support that is needed, with some extra character added by flute and oboe. At the end a bell chimes to signal that all's well in a topsy-turvy world.

Alan Weyman leads the Norfolk Opera Players' cast. His Lockit is a concentrated caricature, with every grimace calculated, and the legs of Deadeye Dick. Not too uncomfortably placed between the rival charms of Jane Mack's Polly and Jill Tichborne's Lucy, Clifford Despenser is a suave

Macheath, whether in good fortune or in bad.

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John Mangan's production works mainly with a bare stage. This allows plenty of place for the ensembles. But lighting effects could have been used to create more sense of being locked up in the condemned cell. The start is rather slow and hesitant, and the weakness cannot be entirely ascribed to the anonymous adaptation.

t The Beggars Opera is also performed at the Maddermarket Theatre this Saturday and Sunday, October 12 and 13.

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