The Pick: Love Is a Poverty You Can Sell, a little bit of Weimar-era Kurt Weill at the Factory

The Pick: Love Is a Poverty You Can Sell, a little bit of Weimar-era Kurt Weill at the Factory

(Images: courtesy Soup Can Theatre) 

Contrary to what his legacy might suggest, Kurt Weill only dabbled in cabaret. Sure, he wrote a few tunes for the darkened German haunts, but mostly he focused on longer forms like opera and musical theatre. But Weill’s compositions, laced with despair, a wry wit and disenchantment, came to epitomize the sound of 1920s Weimar German cabaret for many in the West.

At this week’s Next Stage Festival, Soup Can Theatre remounts Love Is a Poverty You Can Sell, its terrific Fringe cabaret from 2010, in which the composer’s standards are supplemented with Weill-influenced selections from Tom Waits, Stephen Sondheim and, naturally, Kander and Ebb of Cabaret fame. Accompanied by a live orchestra and a droll pair of bickering German MCs in lederhosen, the piece is totally immersive, transporting the audience back to the smoke-drenched theatres and beer halls of Weimar-era Germany (minus, sadly, the smoke and beer).

Weill’s music is known for its sophisticated irony and pointed satire, exposing the hypocrisy and greed at the heart of polite society. But absent the political upheaval of its original interwar context, his work can still be appreciated for its musicality: poetic lyrics filled with piercing imagery and propelled by sultry melodies that soar to rhapsodic emotional heights—when they’re not dripping in icy cold irony.

The details: Jan. 5 to 15. $10. Factory Theatre, 125 Bathurst St., 416-966-1062, fringetoronto.com