Street Scene

There are just a few days left to catch the London return of the Opera Group/Young Vic’s revival of this powerful production which garnered an Evening Standard Best Musical Award in 2008.

A fruitful collaboration between German-Jewish immigrant Kurt Weill (music), Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Elmer Rice (book) and the black writer and social activist Langston Hughes (lyrics), this gritty 1947 American Opera is structured more like a Broadway musical than conventional opera, with spoken dialogue and sung lyrics given more or less equal weight.

With the temperature soaring and the gossips out in force, this slice of urban life boasts musical styles – arias, jazz, blues – as varied as the ethnicity of the occupants of the brownstone East Side tenement where it is set.

Unhappily married, middle-aged Anna Maurrant sets tongues wagging by seeking the affection from the milkman which her heavy-drinking stagehand husband will not supply. Her daughter, Rose, is pursued by her married boss (who wants to set her up in a place of her own) but is in love with bookish, Jewish Sam (excellent Paul Curievici with a voice I want to hear more of).

A single-parent family lives under the constant threat of eviction, a jovial Italian music teacher (his German wife regretfully childless) buys ice-creams all round, and an expectant dad eagerly awaits the birth of his first baby.

The orchestra occupies street level of designer Dick Bird’s multistorey set, whilst good time girl Emma (Charlotte Page) and her latest conquest (John Moabi) kick up their drunken dancing heels on the walkway which crisscrosses the playing area.

Frustratingly, the lyrics aren’t always clear, but with a massive cast of 80 (including a chorus of locals and a batch of enthusiastically playful school kids) and its dramatic climax, this ambitious staging is well worth catching before it sets off on tour.

– Louise Kingsley

Young Vic, The Cut, SE1 8LZ
0207 922 2922
Tube: Southwark / Waterloo

Until: 1st October then on tour until 15th October
£10 – £29.50