Kneehigh are back with their theatrical tour-de-force Dead Dog in a Suitcase (and other love songs). Based on John Gay's The Beggar's Opera, Kneehigh's wild reinvention of this classical musical satire is bursting with wit, wonder and weirdness. Kneehigh’s extraordinary cast of actor musicians shoot, hoot and shimmy their way through this twisted morality tale for our times. We have a quick chat with Kneehigh to find out more...
Firstly, can you introduce us to your show and tell us what it is about?
Dead Dog in a Suitcase (and other love songs) is Kneehigh’s version of The Beggar’s Opera. It takes the characters from John Gay’s infamous musical satire and drags them kicking, screaming into the 21st century. In our take, Macheath the Highwayman is now a contract killer and the Peachums are nefarious corporate monsters who order the assassination of Mayor Goodman – the last good man in town. When Mac puts a bullet in him and his dog (he was a witness) it triggers a series of events that brings everything down!
Why should someone come and see your show?
Good question! Why not sit at home and watch Netflix instead? Well, I would argue that Dead Dog in a Suitcase is worth seeing for a number of reasons. It’s Kneehigh. It’s directed by founder Mike Shepherd. It’s set in a wildly entertaining and wildly theatrical world (one not too different to our own) and it’s LIVE - you will see, hear and feel things no box set can provide! It has an incredible new score by composer Charles Hazlewood which stylistically tumbles through ska, dub step, death metal, you name it. The extraordinary band of actor-musician-singers shoot, whoop and shimmy their way through the story in a way that has to be seen to be believed. And it’s a piece about now. As Macheath hollers into the void towards the end of the show: “BRING IT DOWN! AND START IT ALL AGAIN!” I think we can all agree with that sentiment right now.
Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
Charles Hazlewood brought us the idea of doing The Beggar’s Opera. He’d done it three or four times before and was always dissatisfied. He thought Kneehigh would do it well. I think his instincts were bang on. I took the characters from the original and gave them a new context. Mike and I were watching a lot of Breaking Bad when we were making it and that, coupled with the state of the world back in 2013-14 (ahh, those happy, simpler days – remember them?), fed into building a new story that become about morality. How can you be good in a world that’s gone bad? And can the world be bad? Or is that just us anyway?
What sort of person is going to love this show?
Anyone who’s living in this world right now who’s dealing with the ludicrousness of this insane times will love it.
But not babies. It’s too loud for them.
What will surprise people about this show?
That it’s really funny.
Buy tickets for Dead Dog in a Suitcase (and other love songs)