News Column

Show beggars belief ; Kneehigh announces 2014 production

November 27, 2013


NEXT summer Cornwall's Kneehigh open their radical new reworking of the Beggar's Opera, Dead Dog In A Suitcase (& Other Love Songs), a co-production with Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse.

Written by Carl Grose, with a new score of live music written by award-winning conductor and BBC Culture Show presenter Charles Hazelwood, pictured, and directed by joint artistic director Mike Shepherd, Dead Dog In A Suitcase (& Other Love Songs) is a twisted morality tale for our times busting with wit, wonder and weirdness, delivered in the way only Kneehigh knows how.

The show will be part of the opening season at the reopened Liverpool Everyman, and will run from June 21 until July 12.

The Cornish premiere will be part of the 2014 Kneehigh Asylum season in September at Heligan Gardens.

The show will be presented at Bristol Old Vic later in the year.

The original Beggar's Opera was written in 1728 by John Gay and was adapted by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill in 1928 as The Threepenny Opera.

Like its predecessors, Kneehigh's new version will be a musical satire that holds a mirror to contemporary society - confronting big business, corrupt institutions, and urban myths.

Carl Grose said: "The story of the dead dog in the suitcase is a 'genuine' story. Google it. It's urban myth. It's modern folklore. And that feels like what our Beggar's Opera is, too. If John Gay's was highwaymen, prostitutes and street thieves, ours is about the mythic underbelly of NOW - corporate conspiracy, hit men, warped Robin Hood-types, the end of civilisation, dead dogs in suitcases - all combined to create a portrait of a world hanging by a thread, in turns shocking, hilarious, heartfelt and absurd."

A company of Kneehigh actor musicians will bring Carl's script and Charles' music and songs to life.

The designer is Michael Vale, who also designed Kneehigh's Hansel & Gretel which toured to Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse in 2009.

Sarah Wright will be working with Michael as puppet designer.

Malcolm Rippeth (Brief Encounter, The Red Shoes) will design the lighting and Etta Murfitt (Steptoe and Son, The Wild Bride) will choreograph.

Charles Hazlewood added: "Down the years The Beggar's Opera has lost its teeth, not least because these once rapacious little tunes have evaporated from our collective consciousness.

"I cannot make these tunes current and ubiquitous again. So my mission is to give them back their bite: by bending, bastardising them, often completely remaking them, and by dressing them in new and unfamiliar musical garb, so that the invigorating power of this piece might make a new mark on our sophisticated, and complacent ears." Kneehigh have enjoyed huge critical success this year with a UK and international tour of Tristan & Yseult, and are also touring their much-loved stage version of Brief Encounter to Australia and the US.

This completely new show will be anarchic, funny, radical and rude, in the true spirit of this award-winning Cornish company.


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