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Review: A Splendid “Woyzeck” at Shotgun Players Essay

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Updated: Apr 22nd, 2019

“Woyzeck” is a beautiful ensemble of genius writing, a talented cast, and a perfectly manicured stage. This play is reminiscent of a Greek tragedy in its purest form. The main character in the play succumbs to the jaws of poverty and the burden placed upon him by the society.

The social issues covered by the play still resonate with most of its audience even though the play is almost two centuries old. This fact of life was recently brought to life at the Shotgun Players in Berkeley. The performances by a majority of the cast under the directions of a veteran director were particularly riveting.

The actor in charge of reliving the trials and tribulations of Woyzeck does not disappoint. Alex Crowther presents to the audience a gentle, handsome, and innocent looking main character. His performance helps illuminate the rest of the players. The rest of the outrageous characters represent the vices that plague this society.

Crowther’s Woyzeck makes the gap between the social classes more pronounced. This is because the main character is able to present to the audience the “model human being”. Crowther works with the tempo of the play until its climax when blood flows at the stage.

Woyzeck’s main antagonist is his captain, played by Anthony Nemirovsky. The comical captain was well represented in the stage. His ridiculous demands act as regulators of the temperature in the stage. The audience can count on him to raise the temperature when the stage is about to go cold. In this same way, he was able to diffuse any stage tension with ease and even adjust the mood at the stage when it was necessary.

The actor was able to maintain his authoritative stance and still manage to connect with his audience on a comical level. The blend of his traits is somehow difficult to deliver but the captain still manages to achieve an above average performance. His character is originally meant to be shifty. This portrayal is usually a challenge even for seasoned actors.

For instance, his character is supposed to act as a Woyzeck’s sympathizer. At the same time, he is supposed to periodically torture and belittle him whenever he gets the chance. During such shifts in performance, there were disconnects that were noticeable to the audience.

Kevin Clark plays the role of the doctor who performs unimaginable experiments on Woyzeck. Clark brings this bizarre character to the stage with recognizable success. The playwright most likely created this character with the sole intention of highlighting Woyzeck’s life situation. This is why the interaction between him and Woyzeck is important.

This is because the interaction is one of the tools that bring out the central themes of misery and tragedy. Misery is indeed “the river of the world”. This character acts as a source of this misery. Woyzeck has no choice but to drink from this river. The interaction between these two is a source of amazement for the audience. The theatre becomes grave silent when their scene comes up. The audience members do not want to miss this unbelievable exchange.

The relationship between Marie and Woyzeck is presented to the stage in a very realistic way. This is made possible by the artistic prowess of the two performers. Neither of them engages the other in a direct or intimate manner. For instance, the two actors avoid engaging each other in a direct manner whenever they are on the stage.

They instead chose to highlight the rift between them, a concept that is effectively passed on to the audience. To achieve this, Crowther is always casting his eyes into the unknown beyond. This distance and neglect eventually leads to infidelity on Marie’s part.

The music that graced the show featured genres such as ballads and hard rock. In between scenes, the director chose to experiment with disturbing music choices such as circus music. However, the music might have been necessary to compliment the beautiful singing of Waits and Brennan. “All the World is Green” is sung with the sole purpose of illuminating the man Woyzeck used to be.

The narrator manages to blend in with the rest of the singing and with beautiful results. Her voice becomes like an instrument amidst all that beautiful singing. The set design manages to highlight the theme of oppression in a very vivid manner. The diagonal designs make the Woyzeck’s family home seem tiny and squeezed. The audience cannot help but feel sorry for this hardworking man and his family.

The professional ability of both the cast and director of “Woyzeck” is evident throughout the play. The director achieved a great deal of clarity when telling this Georg Buchner’s classic. The ensemble of the play is particularly unforgettable. The two singers are timely in their delivery and it is likely that “Woyzeck” is their best work.

The music is laced with beautiful melodies, catchy lyrics, and it possesses honest emotions. The overall performance in this play is quite splendid. Nothing that is involved in this production falls short of the acceptable standards. When the curtain falls on this haunting narrative, no hint of disappointment can be heard.

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IvyPanda. (2019, April 22). Review: A Splendid “Woyzeck” at Shotgun Players. https://ivypanda.com/essays/review-a-splendid-woyzeck-at-shotgun-players-essay/

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"Review: A Splendid “Woyzeck” at Shotgun Players." IvyPanda, 22 Apr. 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/review-a-splendid-woyzeck-at-shotgun-players-essay/.

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IvyPanda. "Review: A Splendid “Woyzeck” at Shotgun Players." April 22, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/review-a-splendid-woyzeck-at-shotgun-players-essay/.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "Review: A Splendid “Woyzeck” at Shotgun Players." April 22, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/review-a-splendid-woyzeck-at-shotgun-players-essay/.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'Review: A Splendid “Woyzeck” at Shotgun Players'. 22 April.

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