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Musical Marx

india Updated: Mar 23, 2009 21:00 IST

If a box of cornflakes can be sold with a jingle, Das Kapital should need an Shostakovich opera. Or a Gershwin musical at the very least. The Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre is limiting its ambitions to an all-singing, all-dancing take on why capitalism sucks. With jobs disappearing as fast as Kellogg’s would like its cereal to, Marx: The Musical is opening in Shanghai next year. With luck, there should be a Broadway version the season after.

In the tradition of the hallowed Beijing Opera, however, the running dogs of capitalism will have to crouch like tigers and fly like dragons. The dictatorship of the proletariat will need a crash course at the temple of Shaolin. And the petit bourgeois will march in step with Chinese rock. By the time it reaches American shores, the other Marx (of the Brothers fame) ought to influence the script: “Money frees you from doing things you dislike. Since I dislike doing nearly everything, money is handy.”

Preaching about the economy is difficult at the best of times, but it’s easier to learn the score when it’s set to a score. Since capitalism has a habit of shooting itself in the foot once every few years, the story does indeed need a bit of song and dance. To quote Karl: “History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.”