"Ambitious production delivers good results."
by Andy MOSELEY for remotegoat on 17/08/12

There are some plays that are easy options for companies to perform and there are plays that will always be challenging. Woyzeck falls into the latter category. Inspired by an actual crime committed in a small German town it mixes the internal and external world of its titular character as they deteriorate. Georg Buchner, the writer, died before completing the play, leaving a work that exists only as a composite of drafts, with no certainty of what the running order should be. This gives a lot of scope for how to interpret it, but also a lot of opportunities to take it down paths that frustrate audiences.

Oneohone's production takes advantage of its potential and turns the play into something where the seemingly random, opening scenes build to a compelling conclusion. They have been imaginative in their choice of venue, with St Andrew's Crypt offering a bare and desolate series of arches and spaces that the play and audience move between. It's a promenade performance, so the audience follow the action, which caused problems early on when people were reluctant to cross into a space with action taking place on either side of them, and for half of the audience it briefly became an audio-only play. At times it also felt that the company were making use of all the space because they could, rather than because they needed to, but on the whole the set-up and execution worked, with the production really coming to life in the closing twenty minutes as Woyzeck's demise approached with ever more intensity.

It was at this point that the visual and musical elements came to the forefront in two scenes that followed the seduction of Woyzeck's common-law wife Marie (Eleanor Rushton) by a drum major (John-Mark Philo). Both scenes used the same repetitive rhythm, but in the first it was stamped out sensuously by Marie, lost in the moment of submission, and in the second it became the sound of desperation as Woyzeck thumped it out on the floor.
This lead into the most powerful and effecting scenes as Woyzeck's primal screams signalled the start of his final collapse, and a genuinely affecting moment came as he offered up his most treasures possessions to an audience unsure whether to accept them. Our attention then moved to the opposite end of the crypt as Marie, wonderfully framed in the stairwell, delivered a heart-rending soliloquy about a boy who decided to go to Heaven.

The aggression that followed this jarred somewhat, but that's no doubt what it was intended to do, as the play as a whole continually switches between extremes of thoughts and feelings, as highlighted by Marie's reaction to the drum major, switching from 'Don't touch me' to 'Who cares, it's all the same' within a sentence.

The production was not without flaws, and at times its ambition was above what it was able to deliver, but in the final analysis it was a good overall interpretation of a challenging play.

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