Your review of The Threepenny Opera ("Eat First, Moralize Later," Feb. 11) gave appropriate credit to the staging of the production but said little about the quality of the production itself. Perhaps this is because few people are familiar with and knowledgeable about Die Dreigroschenoper. The original was created in the late 1920s by Bertold Brecht and Kurt Weill as their version of the satiric The Beggar's Opera, written by John Gay in the 18th century as a statement on society's inequities. Beggar's closed with, "the lower people have their vices in a degree as well as the rich, and are punished for them." The obvious point being that the rich do not pay.
In the '30s, Brecht, Weill and others from Dreigroschenoper fled to the U.S. when Hitler came into power. Most of them were communists. Brecht was called into the House Un-American Activities Committee and there a number of his poems, in translation, were read to him and when asked if he had written them he said, very politely and thoughtfully, that he had written something like that but that was not what he had written. This was quite true since he had written in biting Berliner Deutsch and these were poor translations. When he was excused he was thanked profusely for being such a cooperative witness.
As I left the Playhouse I was thinking that what I had just seen was definitely not what Brecht had written. Brecht's colorful German is not easy to translate well but the translations used for this production were dreadful and the feel and message of the original were quite lost. The show was dragged out with unnecessary repetitions and additions and had the feel of a beggar's comedy. I recommend that if people want to see this production they first see the film of the original with good subtitles on YouTube.
Sylvia De Rooy, Eureka