6.3/10
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3 user 1 critic

The Beggar's Opera (1983)

| Crime, Musical | TV Movie
A historical adaptation of John Gay's 18th Century ballad opera, exuberantly performed for BBC television. With its story of a condemned highwayman, it brings to life the greed, lust and ... See full summary »

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A historical adaptation of John Gay's 18th Century ballad opera, exuberantly performed for BBC television. With its story of a condemned highwayman, it brings to life the greed, lust and corruption of low-life London. Written by L. Buis

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Crime | Musical

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1.33 : 1
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Highly entertaining
9 June 2017 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

John Gay's 'The Beggar's Opera' is a lot of fun and it is no wonder it's popular with most, the dialogue, music and characters are all great. Benjamin Britten's radically different but enormously enjoyable and melodious version is also well worth it as well.

This is a highly entertaining production that is not quite flawless but does a huge amount work. The vocal weak link is Roger Daltrey's Macheath, somewhat underpowered and limited, and while reasonably charismatic the other actors captured the essence of their characters more, Macheath is not exactly likable and Daltrey doesn't do enough to change one's mind. Was not a fan of the darker alternative ending, which staging wise was a little fudged too.

However, this production of 'The Beggar's Opera' is beautifully designed and costumed and the way it's photographed does nothing to hinder that. Gay's music is lovely, enthusiastically and sympathetically played by the period instrument orchestra and aided by John Elliot Gardiner's vigorous and nuanced conducting.

Furthermore, the dialogue is performed with wit and naturalism. Jonathan Miller directs compellingly, allowing the staging and drama to be exuberant, entertaining and relatable as possible.

Daltrey apart, the performances are excellent and the singing is above average. Bob Hoskins is an enjoyable Beggar, while Carol Hall is affecting as Polly and Isla Blair's Jenny Diver more vicious than usual. Rosemary Asche is a vengeful and beautifully characterised Lucy, and the Filch and Lockit are no less inferior.

Patricia Routledge and Stratford Johns (the best singer in the cast) give the standout performance. Routledge is an absolute hoot as Mrs Peachum and Johns' Mr Peachum is suitably menacing.

Overall, highly entertaining. 9/10 Bethany Cox


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