The Tab reviews the latest production from UCL’s Drama Society, a chilling performance of Woyzeck in the Garage Theatre
Woyzeck is an intensely dark production centred on a lowly rifleman stationed in a German seaside town. The subject of physiological experimentation for badly needed cash, Woyzeck sees his wife Marie philandering with ‘Captain’ – and soon enough, the voices and inner-demons that haunt him take over. Woyzeck murders his wife and whilst cleaning the blood stained knife, dies himself amidst ambiguous circumstances.
The tragedy was popularised in the 1979 film by Klaus Kinski who twitched and gurned his way through a legendary portrayal of Woyzeck and his inner turmoil.
In the UCL’s intimate Garage Theatre, Caspar Cech-Lucas produced a similarly unnerving portrayal. He was perfectly disinhibited from the beginning and filled the 50-seat theatre-cum-cauldron with a tension palpable from the start.
In being within arm’s reach of centre stage, it was certainly an intense affair. The audience was peppered with saliva across the hour and fifteen, but utterly engaged in Woyzeck’s unfolding insanity.
Mary’s attempt to balance working class motherhood and sex was hardly subtle, yet nor should it have been. She and Captain struck up a visceral onstage chemistry as the hulking Jasper Bartlett drooled over Gemma Jones and added a few humorous notes to an otherwise sobering working class tragedy.
Writer Georg Bucher died at 23 before completing Woyzeck, leaving others to compose an ending to his definitive work. This adaption did not address Woyzeck’s death particularly, but ended chillingly with the protagonist and his wife dead and draped in white cloth.
The production was slightly bare but in being so, allowed Avy Tennison and Elena Ghirardello’s cast to penetrate the core of the myriad themes surrounding the plot – working class life, jealousy and mental illness amongst them.
No sunshine, lollipops or rainbows in this one. Woyzeck was a difficult play for cast and audience alike, but its dark tones were executed well in this compelling performance of a German classic.