The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui – Review

Yesterday, Small Green Shoots were given the opportunity to watch the latest adaption of Bertolt Brecht’s play, ‘The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui’. The story follows the rise of the gangsters rise to power through bribery, corruption & murdering those who dare stand in his way. Arturo intends to break out the life of a despicable gangster to someone control of the entire vegetable trade in Chicago.



The play, written in 1941 intends to show fascism is not an unstoppable force but a resistible extension of free-market capitalism. Brecht represents Hitler’s rise to power, often creating parallels between the play & actual events. The play has frequent references to Shakespeare, with explicit comparisons to Shakespeare’s Richard III to highlight Arturo’s villainy & a common Shakespeare trope of ghosts as Arturo sees the ghost of one of his victims.

Bruce Norris’ adaptation brings modern parallels of homicidal gangsters to ‘the leader of a certain nation’ with numerous comparisons to Trump as Arturo proclaims, “I’m gonna make this country great again” & mentions of a wall against others.

Lenny Henry is amazing in the titular role, with the charisma & duality that keeps the audience on their toes from the bravado of a dictator to the comedic scenes.

The production & set design is tremendously done setting the scene of the old Chicago streets, a city of jazz and gangsters, prohibition, and poverty.

All singers were great, with several stand out performances, throughout the show it was a great experience to watch.