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Marx in London – Scottish Opera (preview)

What would the life of Karl Marx look like if you tumbled all of his mundane stresses and problems into one day? Scottish Opera’s new grand farce, the UK premiere of Jonathan Dove’s Marx in London!, has an answer. Rather than concentrating on his politics, this creative new production finds Marx ‘in London’ where, exiled, he spent most of his adult life, beset on all sides by day-to-day troubles: physical, financial, emotional, and vocational. Poor Marx: Prussian spies, Italian agitators, and extremely uncomfortable carbuncles on his bottom!

Speaking to Director Stephen Barlow he says it has similar beats, in a way, to TV sitcom classic, Frasier – its comedy punctuated with little moments of melancholy and pathos. ‘You’re thinking oh, this bit is actually quite painful or quite sad, they play it really truthfully, and then the next moment you’re laughing again.’ He also mentions there’s a homage or two to the comedy of The Marx Brothers [no relation]. It all sounds brilliantly lively and a perfect antidote to any late winter gloom.

Barlow describes the atmosphere as ‘crazy, madcap, quite slapstick at times’. ‘It’s also very witty’, he says, ‘but it’s also quite poignant, especially the way the female characters are drawn – his long suffering wife in particular is drawn wonderfully.’

‘The music’s very accessible too – it’s tuneful and memorable. The orchestration is great, producing lots of funny, unusual sounds.’ It sounds like it’s gonna be a lot of fun.

Visually, the staging is very colourful and quite silly. The audience will know it’s a comedy as soon as they walk into the theatre, before a note is played or a note is sung – it’s got a Monty Python vibe. ‘Animation will add texture and create atmosphere in a witty, or very dramatic way.’ Speaking to the Director, he isn’t much up for giving much away on exactly what that entails for fear of spoilers – we’ll just have to wait and see.

Marx in London! will be at Glasgow’s Theatre Royal on 13th, 15th & 17th February then 22nd & 24th February 2024 at Festival Theatre Edinburgh


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