Woyzeck FJF

Woyzeck FJF
by Georg Buchner
adapted by Jeremy Duncan Pape and D.L. Siegel
directed by Jeremy Duncan Pape
presented by No-Win Productions

Georg Buchner, German, wrote Woyzeck in 1837, but the play wasn’t produced until 1913. Its distinction among important plays is that it’s probably unfinished, and we don’t even know in what order the scenes were meant to be presented. Its series of scenes are held together less by plot than by theme.

Woyzeck tells the story of a downtrodden soldier oppressed and humiliated by his betters. A doctor uses him as for experiment and orders him to eat nothing but peas. His military superior routinely abuses him verbally. His mistress takes a lover and finally, at the end of his tether, Woyzeck murders her.

No-Win productions has set the play in a psychiatric hospital. We recognize this immediately by the padded wall. Alfred Schatz’ set is simple and handsome, a white wall over a white floor, two beds. Woyzeck and Andres (Andres is Woyzeck’s buddy in the original script) are the two patients in the room. The other characters appear as Woyzeck’s hallucinations as he relives the events that landed him here.

The reality of this world is that Woyzeck and Andres play a Chinese board game called go (what an odd choice!) during the course of the play. Andres moves so slowly that he’s nearly catatonic.  

As Woyzeck, James Kautz is suitably put-upon and has analyzed the script well, but he lacks the intensity of emotion necessary for this monumental role. Allesandro Colla, as the peculiar doctor, gives the only performance on stage that makes much of an impression. His seems to relish the bizarre character he’s playing.

This is a creative, high-concept production. But it’s boring. Pape and Siegel have made bold choices, but the wrong ones for the script. The script lacks a strong through line, but it can have enormous dramatic tension as we see our anti-hero move from one abusive situation to another. We don’t find that tension here in Woyzeck’s visions. Even Andre’s movements themselves, while the actor exhibits a fine physical control, are so slow that they try our patience.

Let’s hope that No-Win Productions better suits the concept to the script.

Steve Capra
March 2015

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