Monday, 21 September 2020

REVIEW: Woyzeck at Theatro Technis


There comes a time in every theatre-makers life where they decide to take on some existential German tragi-comedy. This takes artistic bravery on a good day, but during a global pandemic? Well, you’ve got to be bridging the gap between crazy and genius.
 
The show follows the descent into madness of the titular character, Woyzeck, who is based on a true to life murderer in 1800s Germany. It’s full of all of the class-wars, metaphors and military whores you’d want from a healthy dose of 19th Century expressionism, but if you don’t know what you’re in for, it’s just a bit weird. The Acting Gymnasium have decided to follow the script quite closely so it only feels apt to describe this production in the same way; a bit weird. 

Gavin McAlinden’s cast did incredibly well in drawing out the subtleties of the story, as you couldn’t help but feel sympathy for Woyzeck; a victim of fate and circumstance, portrayed by a wonderfully sensitive Andreas Kr├╝gserson in the lead. His fragility was framed perfectly by his larger (and louder) than life Captain (Clayton Black) who, in the outstanding performance of the night, managed to capture all of the absurdities of the script in one character. Unfortunately, this commitment to the absurd began and ended with Black. When the show opened in a dimly lit cabaret bar with a jazz singer in full flapper get-up offering me some ‘eine kleine nachtmusik’ with a wink, I was ready for the darkly humoured, intriguing and voyeuristic Woyzeck I know and love. This atmosphere died very suddenly, however, and no-one managed to bring it back. The jazz interludes, although beautifully sung, seemed out of place, the transitions between scenes were clunky and the ensemble failed to bring the show to life. It became a collection of scenes as opposed to a unified play, a victim of the Zoom society we live in now.

The set and costumes were inoffensive; not necessarily adding to the atmosphere but not subtracting from it either. They were very literal interpretations of time and place. The lighting also being very literal was more offensive, however, to the point of almost being gimmicky. For example, when Marie was monologuing about the world being a dark place, the stage, you guessed it, went dark, and that tells you a lot about the attitude of the show as a whole. Lacking a touch of creativity. A word for word interpretation isn’t necessarily a bad thing but the audience has to work a lot harder to invest in a show where no-one says what they really mean. 

I would genuinely love to see Woyzeck set fully in some seedy Weimar cabaret bar and I’m imagining that would have been Acting Gymnasium’s concept should time and viruses have allowed. In which case, if they continue to develop the show in a post-Zoom world, I’ll probably be the first to get a ticket. As of now though, I’d say go, but go with an open mind. Or just go because theatres are open again and I’m just so happy theatres are open again! 

Review by Anna Smith

Rating: ★★

Seat: Unassigned | Price of Ticket: £15
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