(Jonathan Brown’s article appeared in the Independent, 10/11.)
Bertolt Brecht never believed German audiences would cope with this allegory of Hitler's rise to power. In the end the play was never performed in his life time – not even in the US, where it was intended for public consumption. Luckily in Britain we remain transfixed with all things Nazi, whether in book, film, television or indeed theatre. But it would be wrong to see the staging of this fast-moving and enjoyable play as cashing in on our obsession with the Third Reich and, of course, our role in its eventual taming. Written in the panic of flight in 1941 – it took just three weeks to complete as he waited in Finland for a visa to the US – Brecht transposes the action of 1930s Germany and Austria to mob-ruled Chicago and its neighbouring Cicero.