Sunday, April 08, 2007


Friday night I was at the Exit Theatre to see a production of Woyzeck by The Cutting Ball Theater. I've been to this venue for fringe shows, & it's a pretty scrappy operation. Before they open the theater doors, we're crammed into a small lobby, then when they let us in, we're crammed into 4 tight rows of chairs. There's a lot of crawling over people to get to a seat. I overheard someone remark that it's like getting on an airplane.

The show is performed by a committed cast of 9 young actors. The action moves very quickly. It's a spare, expressionistic production. It takes place against a white-washed wall of cubbyholes, filled with ordinary & not so ordinary house-old objects. There are lots of lighting effects & sound effects coming from different parts of the theater. The sounds are not quite noise & not quite music. The show has a hallucinatory feeling, like perhaps some of it is only happening in Woyzeck's head.

I'm seen Woyzeck in its operatic version, & I expected the Woyzeck character to be this bluff ox of a man. Instead, our Woyzeck (Chad Deverman)is tall, slim, sensitive & exceptionally good-looking. His scenes with Marie then became very sensual & sexy.

The murder scene was especially powerful. We know what's going to happen, but Marie is entirely unaware. When Woyzeck embraces Marie & they take a few dance steps together, we seem to get a peek into an earlier, more tender phase of their relationship. This makes it all the more terrible when he pulls out his knife. Unfortunately it's not a swift death. Woyzeck discovers that it takes a lot of stabbing to kill Marie, & he eventually has to slit her throat, at which point she becomes a wide-eyed corpse, her eyes rolling back into her head.

Woyzeck is a grotesque play & must be very challenging to produce. It's clearly fragmentary, though every scene just as clearly raises an important issue. & it's hard to feel positive about any of these issues raised. When the performance ended in a sudden black-out, the audience sat in still silence for several seconds before someone started the applause.

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