Opera Ikan Asin, the Indonesian adaptation of Bertolt Brecht’s The Threepenny Opera, was staged from 2-5 March 2017 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Teater Koma, Indonesia’s leading theatre group. The play was first staged in 1983 and then in 1999. On this year’s special production, younger actors and actresses made up the bulk of the cast, a proof that the group’s regeneration was in progress.

The story was set in early 20th century colonial Batavia but the messages conveyed by the play were still relevant to life in modern-day Jakarta. Group leader and director N. Riantiarno acknowledged he struggled with the musical aspect of the play since his actors and actresses were no singers. Indeed, Naomi Lumban Gaol (Lusi Kartamarma/Lucy Brown) was the only one with real singing skills. But in the end it was the dramatic aspect that really mattered.

Story-wise, I think they should’ve explained more as to why the main character was pardoned. That was my biggest question. I’ve only read the synopsis of, and not seen, The Threepenny Opera, so I don’t know if the original story was as confusing about this matter. But in overall the performance was what I’d expected from a troupe as Teater Koma. My biggest complaint was just a technical one: the audio mixing was rather messy. That’s all.

Opera Ikan Asin (The Threepenny Opera)
Ciputra Artpreneur Theater, Jakarta
3 March 2017
Mekhit (Macheath): Rangga Riantiarno
Poli Picum (Polly Peachum): Sekar Dewantari
Natasasmita Picum (Jonathan Jeremiah Peachum): Budi Ros
Amalia Picum (Celia Peachum): Netta Kusumah Dewi
Yeyen (Jenny): Cornelia Agatha
Kartamarma (Jackie Brown): Joind Bayuwinanda
Lusi Kartamarma (Lucy Brown): Naomi Lumban Gaol
Tukang Celoteh (Street Singer): Sari Madjid