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The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui (Classic Stage Company)

From 121 member  reviews
Members say: Great acting, Relevant, Intense, Thought-provoking, Absorbing

About the show

Bertolt Brecht’s skewering of Adolf Hitler and totalitarianism is given a new production directed by John Doyle ("The Color Purple") for Classic Stage Company. More…

In 1930s Chicago, mobster Arturo Ui will stop at nothing to control the cauliflower trade. Terror and bloodshed follow. Can anyone stop him?  Written in 1941, the play was one of the Berliner Ensemble’s greatest box office successes.

Member Reviews (121)


Great acting, Relevant, Intense, Thought-provoking, Absorbing
Avg Score

Absorbing, Great acting, Confusing, Ambitious, Dizzying

See it if Raul Esparza is great. It is Bertolt Brecht. Lightning is super. Action abounds. Thrust Stage (one of my favorites)

Don't see it if Actors have tough time with Thrust stage. Lighting affects some in audience It is loud. It is Bertolt Brecht (no middle ground)

Confusing, Thought-provoking, Slow, Relevant, Great acting

See it if you're a fan of Brecht or Esparza who is great, enjoy social satires connecting America of today to fascism, pared down casts,

Don't see it if you're not a Brechtian, don't like heavy-handed symbols, find it hard to discern an actor switching characters, bright lights or loud noises

This is raoul esparza as i have never seen him before

See it if This is an excellent, cohesive cast easily handling Brechtian dialogue. Nuance and relationships are not always clear, but the allegory is.

Don't see it if You have any difficulty hearing. The fast pace of the dialog took time to catch. You are not interested in political allegories.

Great acting, Relevant, Intense, Satire

See it if You are a fan of Raul Esparza. He was great. And if you like Brecht, although this isn't one of his best plays.

Don't see it if You don't like satire. Although in this case the satire is frighteningly close to our current reality.

Great acting, Ambitious, Absorbing, Relevant, Intense

See it if satire of Hitler's rise to power as told thru a story of a Chicago gangster, wonderful portrayal of Ui by Raul Esperza, funny & disturbing

Don't see it if you don't like satire or like your satire subtle; would be confused by actors playing more than one role

Also First half (Ui/Hitler rising to power) was very confusing due to actor... Read more Read less

A political allegory that hits hard in some points, Thought-provoking despite the bareness, Esparza shines, Fast-paced, Uneven pacing in places

See it if you like fast-paced, thoughtful, older works--reinvigorated--requiring rapt attention; allegorical works, starkly-produced, are your speed.

Don't see it if expecting a really refined production (CSC is going bare-bones again—there aren’t even physical programs); you dislike political allegories.

Also Raúl Esparza in the eponymous role is simultaneously scary yet patheti... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Ambitious, Entertaining, Great acting, Edgy

See it if You like to see rarely produced plays by renowned playwrights , with excellent casts and cogent direction

Don't see it if You want a musical or to keep your entertainment apolitical

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent, Thought-provoking

See it if You want to experience an energetic revival of this Brecht classic. Interesting staging by John Doyle.The ensemble cast is terrific.

Don't see it if The subject matter is not for you.The play requires your complete attention.I noticed several audience members who were asleep.What a shame!

Great acting, Clever, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Intense

See it if You want to see masterful performances by Raul Esparza and the supporting cast in a highly charged political story that still has relevance.

Don't see it if You are looking for something light and fluffy and non-political. This is definitely more of a think piece.

Also I was very pleasant surprised by how much I enjoyed this show. I was v... Read more Read less

Great acting, Dated, On the nose, Allegorical, Farcical

See it if You want to see a well-acted political farce decrying the complicity of wealthy business interests in the success of the Nazi Party.

Don't see it if you're expecting parallels to modern day politics. Brecht wrote so specifically about the rise of Nazism it is obvious and nontransferrable

Indulgent, Entertaining, Relevant

See it if Brecht ... love him or hate him. Raul is powerful. Interesting staging.

Don't see it if Can be exhausting and dogmatic.

Clever, Entertaining, Preachy

See it if You enjoy a cartoonish struggle between good and evil (with a clear hint to our times) as Esparza & the cast revel in their roles.

Don't see it if You prefer the suspension of disbelief one can have in non-Brecht theater (or you don't like cauliflower).

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Profound, Relevant

See it if You want a tour de force performance from Raul Esparza. He is riveting. The show is good, not great, but relevant to our times.

Don't see it if You don’t like politics, don’t like rhyming couplets, need a big show with big sets, or want light fluffy theater. It’s not a show for all.

Confusing, Ambitious, Quirky, Relevant

See it if You are a fan of Brecht or Esparza. A very complex fast paced wordgame. See it if you like wordplay and accents.

Don't see it if If you are looking for an easy to follow piece. It is all over the place.

Overrated, Disappointing, Excruciating, Slow, Confusing

See it if you like Bertolt Brecht plays no matter how poorly they are done.

Don't see it if you want to see a well directed play. Director John Doyle did needlessly bizarre & confusing things that made the play difficult to follow.

Clever, Great acting, Masterful, Relevant

See it if You like Brecht's writing and want to be blown away by an amazing performance ..Raul Esparza !

Don't see it if You get bored easily. This takes concentration.

Also Wow! I was blown away. Wonderfully staged and acted. And the second ac... Read more Read less

Confusing, Disappointing, Excruciating, Slow, Thought-provoking

See it if you want to see the similarities between 1930s Nazi Germany and the gangster cities of Chicago and Cicero.

Don't see it if you are disappointed by a play with too much symbolism, loudness and confusing dialogue.

Disappointing, Intense, Slow, Relevant, Confusing

See it if you like the writing of Bertolt Brecht and you want to see a play that parallels the rise of Hitler with Chicago corruption.

Don't see it if you want a play with a well defined plot, less symbolism and more action.

Great writing, Relevant, Entertaining, Political, Solid

See it if you're deepening your appreciation of Brecht beyond "The Threepenny Opera." Raul Esparza's turn in the title role is deliciously strange.

Don't see it if you go ballistic when the parallels between Trump and Hitler are made evident. To say this production feels timely is an understatement.

Also Memorable Line: "If only we could act instead of talking, we wouldn't ... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging, Intelligent, Riveting

See it if you like great theatre that is thought provoking and satirical

Don't see it if you prefer straight up theatre and or musicals

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Edgy, Riveting

See it if You enjoy classic plays with a political edge and social messaging. Mirrors Charlie Chaplin’s classic film The Dictator. The message is

Don't see it if You dislike Shakespearean plays or plays like The Three Penny Opera. Hard to follow and could easily bring on a sudden snooze.

Also powerful, the acting is masterful, the whole experience is a constant ... Read more Read less

Great acting, Relevant, Riveting, Not subtle, but powerful.

See it if You appreciate great acting with a lot of energy and a play, though not subtle, packs a punch.

Don't see it if You're not a fan of Brecht and his ideas about theatre as a distancing medium. You want a subtle piece.

Also I was blown away by Raul Esparza's performance, which a critic dubbed ... Read more Read less

Relevant, Thought-provoking, Intelligent, Great staging, Great acting

See it if you enjoy Brecht’s works, are a fan of Raul Esparza, enjoy social satires, and like the previous productions of CSC

Don't see it if you aren’t a fan of Brechtian theatre, would rather see a musical, or don’t want to see a dictator-centric play

Also CSC’s production is near flawless, and perhaps the finest modern examp... Read more Read less

Confusing, Quirky, Slow, Intelligent, Relevant

See it if you love Bertolt Brecht and you just don't get to see much by him in NYC.

Don't see it if you are not interested in a stilted translation and performances. It was a little hard to endure.

Uninspired., Difficult to follow and understand - all along the way., Unattractive stage/ set style.

See it if Generally well acted, and a surprising characterization by an offbeat star role in Raul Esparza.

Don't see it if Too often it's just a flight of words that you lose the specific knowledge of what's going on. Thematically yes, specifically, no. Pass.

November 14th, 2018
“Doyle’s full of enlivening moments of actorly glee. The eight ensemble members here are delightfully resourceful as they become an entire population of corrupt thugs and government officials...Yet all the cast’s resourcefulness isn’t enough to keep confusion and tedium at bay...E...
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November 14th, 2018
“Doyle’s production is certainly streamlined, and it boasts a wonderful Ui—Esparza plays the part just at the edge of clowning—but his directorial choices also make this character-crammed epic harder to understand...This is the kind of ride that’s hard to get back on once you’ve fallen off...Happ...
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November 14th, 2018
"A sly, fearsome sideshow, a deceptively humble, hugely exciting piece of work...It’s ‘Richard III’ meets Jimmy Cagney by way of the vaudeville circuit, and in the hands of Doyle and his actors, it’s both rollicking and frightening...Esparza is on fire from word one...And he never skips a beat. D...
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November 19th, 2018
"John Doyle’s sober revival of Bertolt Brecht’s 'The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui' couldn’t be more timely, though whether that timeliness enhances or diminishes its message I can’t quite decide...The production’s stripped-down realism has mixed results. It can pay to highlight Brecht’s stylish e...
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