Off Broadway Reviews
If this sounds unsubtle, it is. And if you haven't studied up on your German history circa 1931-1941, you may find yourself scratching your head during CSC's production. By way of a quick primer: the Chicago Cauliflower Trust represents Germany's industrialists and the Chicago city administrator Dogsborough (Christopher Gurr) is the stand-in for the president of the Weimar Republic, General von Hindenburg. Hitler is represented by Arthur Ui (Raul Esparza) whose henchman Ernesto Roma (Eddie Cooper) is an homage to Ernst Röhm, the head of the Nazi brownshirts. Ui's second in command is Emanuele Giri (Elizabeth A. Davis) who's drawn from Hermann Goring, and Giuseppe Givola (Thom Sesma) represents the propagandist Joseph Göebbels. When Ui learns the Trust has bribed Dogsborough into approving a government loan, he makes his move. He and his gang make short work of taking over the trust, eliminating Dogsborough, clamping down on the press and buying off the courts. Arturo Ui ends with an expansion of Ui's power to the neighboring town of Cicero (read: the Anschluss of Austria into the Third Reich) where he assures everyone their free will is still in place, despite our having just witnessed its elimination.
Despite a hard-working cast, and a terrific performance by Esparza as the title character, Doyle's production, which he directed and designed, feels flat and tedious. If, as George S. Kaufman famously quipped, "satire is what closes on Saturday night," then allegory is what flounders through the week. How can Doyle think the outrageousness of The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui possibly compares to the daily onslaught of mind-boggling, horrifying, and soul-crushing news coming out of our White House and our government. Sadly, audiences don't need Brecht's play to point out that our current truth is not only stranger than fiction, it's also a hell of a lot scarier, too.
The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui