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The Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Birmingham

5.0Reviewer's Rating

Woyzeck is a combination of theatre, dance, fun and fear. The striking story matches up to the design as the audience are transported to a world fuelled by pure resilience (and some peas). Woyzeck, played by Thomas Pickles, is living a military life and struggles to come to terms with the end of war. Woyzeck and his girlfriend, Marie (Jalleh Alizadeh), fight for a better life for their child, and as a result the performance oozes style, flair and energy.

Pickles and Alizadeh are joined on the main stage of the theatre by a community cast of close to one hundred members. A testament to the sense of community the West Midlands is capable of boasting, the company performed with a strength and confidence, leading the audience to feel immersed in the densely-packed stage. While Pickles and Alizadeh were strong in their roles, this performance truly belongs to the community cast and their commitment to the stories being told. From the live band to the feisty village girls, each member had a role to play and did so with confidence, poise and fun. A special mention must go to Richella McPherson for the beautiful portrayal of the robot. Delivered in amongst the beauty of Neil Murray and Connie Burley’s design, this company should be congratulated on their accomplishments to produce such a compelling performance.

Murray and Burley’s design begins simply, framing the two opening characters simply with a concrete coloured wall. This screen the moves to reveal a plethora of colour, noise and movement, bringing some much-needed joy to an otherwise dense and dark story. The piece moves from stylish minimalism to vibrant and piercing images. This dynamic works well with the rise and fall of the plot, especially as the title character begins to hallucinate. These haunting images being echoed by the company add potential for a multi-layered interpretation of the scene, as well as creating some beautiful imagery.

This performance showcases the best that Birmingham can be. It shows people’s hidden talents and simultaneously allows people to shine in ways they never dreamed. While the script at times held humour that could be construed as outdated or told jokes that fell slightly flat, within the context of this fun and animated show, it was quickly forgotten. The diversity shown in this piece should be a prime example of what communities can achieve, and set the bar for future theatre in the West Midlands.

  • Drama
  • Writer: Leo Butler (based on George Büchner’s original text)
  • Director: Roxana Silbert
  • Cast Includes: Thomas Pickles, Jalleh Alizadeh and a community cast of approx. 100
  • The Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Birmingham
  • 20th-23rd June 2018

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