22 June 2010

Baal, by TUTA Chicago

TUTA Chicago has been devoted to Bertolt Brecht this year, with an excellent production of The Wedding a few months ago, and, now playing, Baal.  TUTA is one of my favorite Chicago companies for its exuberant, inventive stagings of classic and sometimes difficult plays (from Romeo and Juliet to Uncle Vanya) as well as its spirited approach to contemporary material (such as Huddersfield).  TUTA's production of Baal incorporates music by Josh Schmidt, whose score for the Writer's Theatre's  A Minister's Wife we loved so much.

The production is everything I expect from TUTA: ambitious, creative, musically surprising, and full of committed performances.  But I'm afraid I did not enjoy Baal that much--a difficult play--Brecht's first--centered on a supremely unlikeable character. Knowing it was a parody of German Expressionism--from reading the dramaturge's precis--was helpful; the actors don't play it like parody, though.  Doubtless quite right, but it makes the evening hard to bear.

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