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Brecht on Brecht

From 15 critic and 21 member reviews
Members say: Thought-provoking, Relevant, Ambitious, Entertaining, Disappointing

About the show

PTP/NYC (Potomac Theatre Project) presents a theatrical collage culled from the writings of Bertolt Brecht.  More…

'Brecht on Brecht' celebrates one of the 20th century’s greatest dramatists in a revue of his life’s work. Featuring songs and scenes from Kurt Weill, Hanns Eisler, and Bertolt Brecht’s most famous collaborations, as well as first-hand accounts from Brecht himself, 'Brecht on Brecht' explores the political and social issues the playwright faced as an artist fleeing Nazism for exile in America.

'Brecht on Brecht' will be performed in rotating repertory with ''The Possibilities' and 'The After-Dinner Joke.'


"A monumental work...An adrenaline fueled musical ride through some of Bertolt Brecht’s most powerful observations on social and political fall out...Every fragment, poem, scene, interruption, song in this 'epic theater' piece goads us into becoming present and engaged...Petosa has injected a heightened pace into the work that feels like the surge of energy felt in a mass protest...The ensemble is riveting...They are so vibrant and insanely talented." Full Review

Off Off Online

"Petosa has assembled a likable cast of four central performers...The cast’s youth and likability, however, are sometimes a detriment to the show. On occasion they minimize the incendiary call-to-arms Brecht’s words can provoke...There are moments of profound insight into Brecht’s approach to theater and the significance of science...As the periodic musical numbers reveal, the piece is at its most successful when it slows down and shines the spotlight on individual performers." Full Review


"Perhaps unavoidably, 'Brecht on Brecht' often comes across as a series of highly polished auditions, eliciting the hope that, say, someone will actually cast Bryan and Hamel in a full production of 'The Threepenny Opera.' But it's also a stark reminder that many of Brecht's preoccupations should still be ours." Full Review

Show Showdown

“Petosa chose to present this piece as Story-Theatre-Meets-'Godspell,' with red noses, zooming shopping carts, and other cheerful accouterments. Much of this direction worked...but it didn't quite fit with the stories being told. Another problem is that some of the performers just aren't up to the high-level singing and acting required...Yet there is much here that is worthwhile...Brecht's writing is razor-sharp, insightful...And the cast does acquit itself well on many pieces." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

“The cast is nimble, bright-eyed, and technically skilled...but their collective pleasant, amiable, and at times positively ingratiating manner seems to emanate from a different universe altogether...It's hard to focus on the words, with all the presentational stage business...‘Brecht on Brecht’ offers many pleasures, as long as you understand that occasionally its acting style is out of sync with its terrible, commanding words.” Full Review

Show Showdown

“An engaging yet uneven presentation...At times, the show seems overly frenetic with a false frivolity. When the cast enters and tosses their music on the floor and dons clown noses the pace of the show races unnecessarily so. Then, suddenly, the action falls as a more quiet pieces like 'Nanna's Lied/Songs About My Mother,' begin without real transition. The hyperactivity dilutes the fire of Brecht's activism." Full Review

Stage Voices

“The performers do not seem to be coming out of deep, radical experience. ‘Brecht On Brecht’ demands a knowledge of harsh life, his canon, as well as the ability to give oneself over completely to the discordant material...The young, well-trained cast...excel most in musicality and they are clear in voice...But the edge is largely missing. No matter the quality of the ensemble...there is a difference between the singer’s voice and an actor’s art—and adapting no small challenge.” Full Review

Theatre Reviews Limited

"The members of the cast do not trust their material...There is little need for histrionics but an overwhelming need for vocal range, rich modulation, and pristine interpretive style – all oddly missing in the performances...Overall, the young cast seems unable to identify with the depth of despair that defines the fiber of Brecht’s weltanschauung...These are dark times. The center is not holding. Perhaps this is not the time for clowning around." Full Review

Boston Theatre Wings

for a previous production "The German visionary’s powerful insights about the insidiousness of anti-Semitism and fascism and the need to act against them resonate with new timeliness...Brecht’s unflinching writing can resonate even today without direct contemporary references. Still, the vibrant New Rep staging does well delivering the playwright’s activist attitude...Petosa skillfully summons performances at once persuasive and engaging." Full Review

Theater Mirror

for a previous production "A very entertaining, often moving, and frighteningly timely kaleidoscope of Bertolt Brecht and his writing...His poems and prose, with a few minimal updates in this production by Jim Petosa, are eerie reverberations into the past that resonate with the present political climate...Unnerving parallels can be drawn from the material to America today, which is uncomfortable...If theater is about illumination, a small glimpse into the dark night of the soul, 'Brecht on Brecht' is a triumph." Full Review

Boston Globe

for a previous production "A smart and trenchant collage of excerpts from writings by German playwright-poet Bertolt Brecht...Between the songs and the spiky script, 'Brecht on Brecht' feels at times like a small-scale companion piece to another politically charged, German-textured show...'Cabaret'...Resonates in a Trumpian context as something of a call to arms, albeit one issued in the bitingly sardonic and cryptic Brechtian voice." Full Review


for a previous production "Brecht's art is focused on his experiences in Berlin, his flight from Nazism, and his life as an expatriate in America at a time of political and social upheaval...The actors are all accomplished singers, but the songs, limited in number, take a backseat to Brecht's spoken words which are presented in a hyper-theatrical style...When they speak or sing the playwright's powerful words, it feels as though they are aimed right at us...This is history that we do not wish to repeat." Full Review

Boxing Over Broadway

for a previous production "At times it can be a bit chaotic, sometimes reminiscent of a beatnik coffee house poetry session, a bit madcap, and always engaging...While the dialog can be provocative, different conclusions can be drawn from it. Brecht wanted his spectators to grapple with the ideas, not just sit and take them in...It is not the type of theatre most people are accustomed to. It is, however, an experience that should be taken in." Full Review

The New England Theatre Geek

for a previous production "A captivating show...It runs a range of humor to serious and back again. It’s a clever, well compiled show that offers many chewy, delicious monologues and songs to its artists...Petosa gives life to what could easily be a stand and sing concert show...It’s a socio-political panto for the adults...Brecht’s musings on religious hypocrisy, unlawful politics, war, and other topics are still as relevant as they were when he wrote them...It’s a wonderful production." Full Review

On Boston Stages

for a previous production "A pastiche of plays, poems, writings, and songs of the German playwright, poet, and theatrical director who advocated for the common man against the abuses of the ruling class...This work is a bit of a mish-mash, but it does feature a quartet of fine performers with winning voices...'Brecht on Brecht' is entertaining, but it left us seeking more context on the material being presented, so we might know a bit more why he did what he did when he did it." Full Review

Resonant, Personable, Searing, Political, Ambitious

See it if you would like to hear how relevant a famous voice from theater's past can sound in our own dark days.

Don't see it if you are looking for a full play & a revue just won't do.

Also I know Brecht well. I’ve been through the canon more than once, acted ... Read more Read less

Excellent revue of brecht songs, scenes and poetry. fine acting and singing

See it if Great for Brecht fans AND newbies. Energetic young troupe imparts Brecht's style and flavor. Terrific Mack the Knife and Surabaya Johnny

Don't see it if Brecht 's songs are so compelling and atmospheric. Makes you wish there was another "Threepenny Opera" coming soon. Well done

Ambitious, Great acting, Entertaining, Delightful

See it if You appreciate an inventive approach to classic material with excellent performances.

Don't see it if You only like traditional theater

Also This company is excellent. sorry to say tonight was the last performan... Read more Read less

Historic, Thought-provoking, Intense

See it if you would like some personal insights into the Nazi rise to power and rule provided with a talented, lively, and energetic cast.

Don't see it if you want a light night out.

Entertaining, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Edgy

See it if you want to delight in a mostly 20-something (some college students) very talented cast who fearlessly take on Brecht. Very well done ...

Don't see it if you would be bothered by not "getting" everything that Brecht puts forward in his words and thoughts.

Entertaining, Thought-provoking

See it if you are open to an interesting concept. It's described as a 'theatrical collage' and that is exactly what you get.

Don't see it if you're put off by collages. They can be a bit abstract and ambiguous but usually contain some wonderful elements.

Also A great Brecht sampler. Most theatergoers will be familiar with his wo... Read more Read less

Thought-provoking, Relevant, Intelligent, Great singing, Clever

See it if you like an intelligent show that uses both the songs and poetry of Brecht to express many of his views. Well cast and effectively staged.

Don't see it if you do not like the music, poetry or views of Brecht even if well done.

Also I am not a fan of Brecht, and a lot of his music and poetry is pretty ... Read more Read less

Intriguing, Stirring, Creative

See it if This is what it is so you know before: cabaret style presentation of Bertolt Brecht's work - interested? Go

Don't see it if Brecht is not your thing or you are not seeking an introduction to his work

Also I am a Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956) devotee - it started when I went to ... Read more Read less

Relevant, Entertaining

See it if You appreciate the works of Brecht and performances by young, energetic actors and singers.

Don't see it if The staging and some of the performances were very good, but the work needed a stronger, more experienced actor/singer for some of the songs

Fine performances, Political, Slow 1st half, Powerful, Relevant

See it if you like Brecht's songs and writings, off-beat presentations, political content that is relevant to today and strong emotion.

Don't see it if you dislike a slow 1st half, extremely "dark" presentation, the requirement of careful attention to the words that are highly emotional.

Slow, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Confusing, Ambitious

See it if Brecht's political polestars & poetry in an asymmetrical collage Prose proves dense out of context but songs are better known glorious gems

Don't see it if Hurt by the fact that despite the high energy of the young ensemble, no one is a capable singer or can deliver the needed political punch

Slow, Thought-provoking, Intense, Intelligent, Great writing

See it if you're a Brecht scholar or just want to hear his prose read aloud.

Don't see it if you need a plot or expect "entertainment."

Thought-provoking, Relevant, Disappointing, Ambitious

See it if Passable college production of a monologue, some poems, and a dozen songs by Brecht. Fascistic parallels to today. "Cabaret" via "Godspell."

Don't see it if For fans of The Potomac or The Atlantic Annex (Stage II) only. Favour instead their other far superior Churchill programme running currently

Excruciating at times, Frenetic, Thought-provoking, Ambitious

See it if A Brecht fan &don’t mind a young energetic troupe trying protest on for size without lived experience or a sense of real personal conviction

Don't see it if You’re expecting a plotted show or any space between philosophical, theatrical or political ideas; mostly a too-fast full-on onslaught.

Great music, Excruciating, Ambitious, Slow, Disappointing

See it if You'd like rarely performed Weill numbers, young fresh voices, intermittently decent acting and don't mind intense references to real Nazism

Don't see it if you abhor odd sour soprano notes, red clown noses (incorrectly used), current PC group-think or consider baseline immigration laws sensible.

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

See it if you're interested in the politics of Germany before WWII and the politics of today - to see the parallels.

Don't see it if you don't like long monologues by cast members. I was often confused by what was going on in the play.

Also I found the first half of the play extremely slow and uninteresting. T... Read more Read less

Intelligent, Ambitious, Disappointing

See it if want to hear Weill's music. The cast is too young and inexperienced to grasp the subtleties of Brecht.

Don't see it if you're looking for a show with a linear story line This a literary revue with some of Kurt Weill's songs..

A bit incoherent.

See it if You really know Brecht and would understand any of it.

Don't see it if You don’t know Brecht. You’ll have no idea what’s going on.


See it if You want to see a bunch of people who cannot act and cannot sing (with 2 exceptions), and who make a balagan out of Brecht.

Don't see it if You want to be locked in this theatrical disaster for 2 hours with no intermission.

Also Don't get me wrong, I love abstract plays. And I know Brecht because I... Read more Read less

During previews
Relevant, Great singing, Great acting, Entertaining, Absorbing

See it if You can appreciate Brecht! This is a wonderful intimate production that has moments of great poignancy.

Don't see it if If you don’t care for Brecht although our current president seems to be an omnipresence in the room.

During previews
Energetic, Haphazard, Ambitious, Entertaining, Fine ensemble singing

See it if you like Brecht songs that tell a story, well done by eight actors and a pianist, plus a pot-pourri from poems, statements and plays.

Don't see it if you want some sense of Brecht's life, politics, or theatrical genius, or a narrative arc to the evening.

Cast & Creatives (10)