THEATRE REVIEW: The Good Person Of Szechwan at Crucible Sheffield

WHO CAN afford to be good in a world that’s so bad?

That’s the very modern theme in an audacious new adaptation of a play written by Bertolt Brecht and first performed 80 years ago.

Spoiler alert: this is a story of love and capitalism, we’re told right at the start by poor water seller Wang (Leo Wan).

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Nina Segal’s timely, updated translation is a playful punk rock farce, with wacky singing and dancing adding to the frenetic mayhem as the apocalyptic tale unfolds.


Mixing mythology with the daily drudgery of people’s lives, three gods descend in mortal form as they attempt to find a good person in the town. Or fire will wipe out the the whole place and everyone in it.

Sex worker Shen Te (Amy Tredrea) is the only hope. Will she still be good after coming into a large sum of money? Yet poverty offers no choices.

Director Anthony Lau throws everything into the theatrical mix in an outrageous production, without pulling any punches on the serious issues explored.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

A frog, a rat and a giant cigarette are some of Georgia Lowe’s delightful designs, with a simple set featuring two slides — used by the cast to enter and exit the stage — and rivers of toy balls which get scattered around.  

A superb cast seem to enjoy every minute, with the pace never dropping for a second.

The trio of gods, Callum Coates, Tim Samuels and Nick Blakeley, combine a suitably godly presence with great comic timing — while always reminding us that they answer to a top god-god who really runs things. ‘Change only comes through change’ is their message.

Many of the actors effortlessly play more than one role. Aidan Cheng is excellent as both the selfish Yang Sun, the man Shen Te saves from suicide and is due to marry, and a starving young boy helped by Shen Te.  

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Melody Brown is great as greedy landlord Mrs Mi Tzu, while warm and compassionate as the Old Woman. Jon Chew, neatly switches between playing Lin To, Shu Fu and a waiter and Suni La is wonderfully droll as Mrs Shin. Togo Igawa adds charm and sagacity as husband, priest and rat.

Tredrea as Shen Te and Wan as Wang shine brightly as the two main leads. Tredrea impresses as Shan Te, with a lovely singing voice, while convincingly pulling off the double role of tough “cousin” Shui Ta, false moustache and all.

Wan is marvellous as Wang, touchingly loyal to friend Shen Te — his is the real love story of the play.

As we hear at the end, the world’s to blame, but if we don’t try to be better we’ll never succeed.