a theatre review

I went to see a performance of Chicago in Krakow, strongly hoping it was actually translated into Polish instead of just playing subtitles on a screen, and oh boy was I not disappointed. Here’s my listicle review of takeaways:

  1. Broadly, I was really into the effort it must take to translate a whole bunch of songs into a different language so they still sound right and tell the same story. There was a screen with subtitles but it was in English, which had the original lines and lyrics, and like, it was not easy to understand everything that was being sung, but I had a great time catching the changes and how they got a different rhyme with the same meaning, etc.
  2. I have no idea what level of prestige this production was and I truly do not have an ear for music so I’m not gonna weigh in on singing quality but like, the lead actors were delightful to me, a rube, but I’m real mad at the lazy costuming. Everyone was wearing “sexy loosely-’20s-approximation wear” the whole time? Including when the chorus was playing, like, prisoners or reporters or general members of the public. I did appreciate the commitment to laziness in that a good third of the chorus had visible clearly-not-meant-to-be-part-of-the-costume tattoos and did they try to cover them up? Nah.
  3. Also there was zero effort made to do any period hair styling. The women whose hair was left down had it… crimped. Crimped. I hate it.
  4. The audience indulged in a hearty chuckle at a line about how “America may be a bad place but you still love justice!”
  5. Speaking of politics, I… am pretty sure in this version, the Hungarian girl actually killed her husband? Also she was played as like, a wacky idiot instead of a tragic figure who was wronged by the system? I was sensing some anti-Hungarian sentiment here is what I’m saying.
  6. Cell Block Tango a) comes up way earlier in the show than I think it does and b) …super weird to translate “pop” and “squish.” Like. I don’t know how you translate onomatopoeia in a song but. This wasn’t doing it. On top of it, all 6 of them decided to just play different levels of full-on-unhinged for some reason, ok, sure, just start screaming your lines during the talking part.
  7. Another weird one was “Razzle Dazzle;” a song full of nonsense words is yeah also gonna sound wonky. Weirdly, the song they changed the most (as in the fewest lines that were fairly close direct translations) was the end one that Roxie and Velma perform to.
  8. Acting and singing was fine but damn this is a show that requires good dancers and… nope.
  9. There was one hilarious joke they threw in (…ok I’ll admit it here, I have definitely only ever seen the movie, if this is in the original stage version, I’m just gonna accept this mistake, I’m not fact-checking it) where Mary Sunshine was played by a guy and he rips his wig off for a truly rip-roarin’ reveal?? Anyway, this theater is showing Rent next week so I’m sure that’ll be a fun time.
  10. This is not a note on the production but I tried to take one of those awful app scooters to the theater after doing some shopping and almost was late because the garbage app kept confirming my payment and then telling me to get closer to the scooter even though I was standing right on top of it and it would not let me go. I later checked and it did indeed charge me for each of the four times it failed to work, and I am now out $5.52 US American Dollars for this experiment and I’m deeply upset about it. Scooters bad, folks.

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