Review: WOYZECK ****


WOYZECK Four stars

Pleasance Dome venue 23

August 1st to 27th not 13, 23

**** (Four Stars)

The company Spies Like Us are an extremely dynamic group, but also precise and profound in the conveying of emotion. They have taken the classic tale by Buchner, written nearly two centuries ago but still seeming fresh and relevant, by the throat, and presented us with it essence. The story of a hapless young soldier, bright and perceptive in his way, but receiving less than good treatment from all around him.

The army doctor is experimenting on him. Telling him to eat only peas, with predictably odd consequences. The Drum Major, much senior in rank to Woyzeck, takes a fancy to Woyzeck’s unmarried partner, and applies pressure she is unable to resist. His Captain provides advice but also mockery. The situation becomes more and more unbearable for Woyzeck. When will he break?

The ensemble physical theatre here on a small stage is deeply impressive. Each cast member seems able to turn on a pea, so to speak. Alex Holley is very credible as the increasingly troubled Woyzeck. Tullio Campanale varies from manipulative to sly and seductive with ease as both Doctor and Drum Major. Phoebe Campbell is distractedly sympathetic as the increasingly confused and harassed Marie, Woyzeck’s partner.

There is not a moment in this relatively brief version of this play when the action is not compelling. We continually move between scenes of interrogation, pressure, violence or domesticity, punctuated by fluent group action and movement.

After this show you will feel you have seen something of real substance in a short period. Strongly recommended.

Tony Challis