Advocating: The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui

Shaquille+Stewart+as+Dogsborough%2C+and+Salai+Aung+as+Young+Dogsborough.+Photo+credit%3A+Adrilenzo+Cassoma

Adrilenzo Cassoma

Shaquille Stewart as Dogsborough, and Salai Aung as Young Dogsborough. Photo credit: Adrilenzo Cassoma

The Montgomery College Theatre department finishes it’s spring season strong with “The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui”, directed by Professor Sasha Olinick. The play was written by Bertolt Brecht in Finland in 1941 after he fled the Nazi Regime. It parallels Hitler’s rise to power with the title character’s own journey.

 

The cast features 31 talented students, some veterans of the program and a lot of fresh faces as well. Of the 31, five share the role of Arturo Ui. They appear to the audience in this order: Ashley Pugmire, Awa Sal Secka, Karim Darwish, Kiran Duffy, and Aurora Beckett. Each bring his/her own quirks and interpretations to the character while managing to keep the energy from the previous performer alive, which is no easy feat.

 

Director Sasha Olinick. Photo credit: Adrilenzo Cassoma; The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui
Director Sasha Olinick. Photo credit: Adrilenzo Cassoma

 

Olinick writes to his audience, “I’ve tried to portray not just another ruthless antagonist, but a man who clearly shifts and adapts to changing winds, and a monster that strangely grows more grotesque even as he becomes more widely popular.” The idea is well executed and the way the lead actors replaced each other was simple but effective. The best transformation involves Secka and Darwish, who mirror each other until Darwish bursts through to replace Secka.

 

This show utilizes thrust stage blocking which means that it was staged with the idea that the performers are surrounded on three sides as opposed to the traditional stage. This creates for a few interesting challenges for the performers as far as diction and speech are concerned. When having their back to the audience, which cannot be completely avoided in this scenario, the actors run the risk of not being heard. Although some lines were lost due to the staging, the performer’s body language and presence made up for it.

 

Ignacia Alfonso getting ready. Photo Credit: Adrilenzo Cassoma; The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui
Ignacia Alfonso getting ready. Photo Credit: Adrilenzo Cassoma; The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui

 

Some standout performances include Briana Taylor as Giuseppe Givola, Shaquille Stewart as Dogsborough, Nancy Hernandez as Betty Dullfeet, Jacob Meile as Ernesto Roma, William Dominguez as Emanuele Giri, and Jonathan Miot as Actor. Taylor seduces her way into the audience’s heart with her jazzy vocals and sweet talking gangster persona Givola. Stewart and Hernandez both personify their characters with such humane qualities, which at some points seem real. Meile’s booming presence and electric energy gave his character raw power and made scenes with him enjoyable. Miot stole the show with his comedic timing and bigger-than-life attitude. Dominguez succeeds at creating an eerie yet likable gangster character with his own trademark laugh.

 

The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui; Jonathan Miot as Barker. Photo Credit: Adrilenzo Cassoma
Jonathan Miot as Barker. Photo Credit: Adrilenzo Cassoma

 

The set was very aesthetically pleasing and submerges the audience into the the world of Arturo Ui. The attention to props and structural designs for the set were multipurpose: Simple fencing became bed posts and tables and things such as crates also became seats or stands.

 

The majority of the cast wore darker colors, with the exception of Ui, who wore khaki and white. The lighting and sounds were impeccable.

 

Patrick Sullivan (left) as Ui's bodyguard and Jacob Meile (right) as Ernesto Roma. Photo Credit: Adrilenzo Cassoma
Patrick Sullivan (left) as Ui’s bodyguard and Jacob Meile (right) as Ernesto Roma. Photo Credit: Adrilenzo Cassoma

 

Overall, the show is a great way to spend your evening. This farce drives its message home with wit and charm. The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui is a must see.

 

Shaquille Stewart as Dogsborough, and Salai Aung as Young Dogsborough. Photo credit: Adrilenzo Cassoma
Shaquille Stewart as Dogsborough, and Salai Aung as Young Dogsborough. Photo credit: Adrilenzo Cassoma