REVIEW: Dead Dog in a Suitcase (and other love songs) @ Northern Stage, Newcastle (20.10.15) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Sometimes you just know the minute you walk into the theatre that what’s about to unfold is going to be something special.

We were faced with a kind of post-apocalyptic, twisted Les Mis style set, with the stage on two levels, suspect looking scaffolding, and an ominous looking noose swinging from the rafters. What followed was Kneehigh Theatre‘s epic tale of betrayal, corruption, greed and murder which covered most of the seven deadly sins, and much more.

The multi-talented cast sang, danced, laughed and cried their way through a musical that was ambitious in its scope – it pulls you in from the very beginning with its larger than life characters, but it was the puppetry and tragicomedy that almost stole the show. Having Punch and Judy pop up mimicking key scenes (or was it the other way round) was a masterstroke, the (dead) dog in question was, up until its demise, incredibly life-like (not to mention the scarily realistic babies).

Dead Dog in a Suitcase

Based on The Beggars Opera written by John Gay, which was hugely popular when it first was performed in 1728, the plot has been brought up to date by way of political assassinations, a contract killer with a love for the ladies, and an amazing score featuring folk music, trip hop, ska and dub step. Most of the actors also played instruments, and the music by Charles Hazlewood is pivotal to its success.

Rina Fatania was standout as the power hungry yet hilarious Gloria Peachum, the wife of a dodgy businessman who hires the unscrupulous Macheath to take out the current mayor so he can rise to power. Completely deserving of its standing ovation, this production blasted everything else out of the water that I have seen all year, and managed to capture the complexities of the current state of the world, whilst at the same time being a bloody good laugh.

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