Woyzeck (4 stars)

This article is from 2018


Classic given a rough retelling

Although it was written during the German enlightenment, Woyzeck still stands as remarkable condemnation of the pressures of the age of reason on the human individual. Following the story of a soldier who finds himself examined, tormented and bullied by both his superiors and the medical profession, it simultaneously presents the oppression of the working class and nods towards the absurdist masterpieces of the 20th century.

Spies Like Us take the broken text and protagonists and feed them through a vigorous physical theatre style. Juxtaposing symbolic movement sequences, dance and scenes from the script, they conjure the claustrophobic ferocity of the story and refuse to pause for relief. The intensity of the performances, the quality of the ensembles style, the pessimistic tone of the text all combined to make this one of the most impressive if not enjoyable hours of the fringe.

The juxtapositions between naturalism – the seduction of Woyzeck's baby's mother, the chaotic fun of the fair, the tense visits to the tavern – and the more symbolic movement episodes encourage the menacing, paranoid vision of the production, with the ensemble convincingly expressing the subtexts of manipulation and materialist horror. By placing Woyzeck in an abstract and timeless format, Spies Like Us lend the script a contemporary intensity.

Pleasance Dome, until 27 Aug, 3pm, £10 (£9).


  • 4 stars

Spies Like Us in association with The Pleasance A nation wakes up from war, the lake sits stagnant and eerie and all the while a record spins. Franz Woyzeck, a young soldier, grapples with his fragmented mind as he sinks deeper and deeper below the surface of reality. Attempting to provide for his illegitimate son and…