The Bertolt Brecht play, “A Man is a Man” playing at Classic Stage Company is yet another revival from the early 1920’s currently playing (see Machinal) with something to say about how man’s psyche can be broken down in the age of industrialization. In A Man’s a Man, you see a simple man who is on an errand to buy fish for his wife and is recruited into the British army in colonial India. By using psychological torture and plying him with a lot of beer the army breaks him and turns him into a killer.
This play is a comedy and the first act was genuinely funny, but the second act falls apart. Something was missing. There were subplots introduced during the first act that never reached conclusion and characters were introduced that didn’t seem to move the story forward. Since this is the first time that I have seen this Brecht play I don’t know if this was due to the directing, acting, or the fact that a score was added making this play a musical. In fact, at times it seemed more like watching Cabaret than a Bertolt Brecht satire. Maybe it is just a flaw in the play. It is said that Brecht tinkered with this play over a number of years. So perhaps it just needed more tinkering. Whatever the reasons, I left the theater thinking “what just happened?”