Edinburgh Fringe Review: Woyzeck!

What is it called

Woyzeck! by Time Zone Theatre.

Where and When can I see it?

C Nova (Venue 145)

5pm, until August 25th (not 11th).

Should I?

No, unless you absolutely must see ‘the George Büchner play’ this August.

What’s it about?

An old soldier remembers his past, despite the terrible physical and psychological betrayals inflicted on him by his doctor, his senior officers and his wife, Marie.

Time Zone Theatre present Büchner’s unfinished final play in adaptation by Pamela Schermann, for Gareth Somers in solo performance, directed by Stevan Mijailovic.

What did you think?

Time Zone’s production of Woyzeck! is a limp gesture at the dramatic avant-garde that believes itself to be profound. It is a superfluous adaptation, directed without vision, finesse or responsibility whose only merit is the committed performance of Gareth Somers. He is my namesake after all.

The adaptation by Schermann is unsurprising if not unoriginal. Contemporary adaptation should innovate on the original text in an original way to be of use. With the exception of the potentially striking prose of Büchner himself, Time Zone have rehashed the tired old horse of the tragic masculine anti-hero haunted by schizophrenia, and they have done it without any sense of irony.

The direction of Stevan Mijailovic is simply ill-advised. As I picture the play now, I can’t help thinking I’ve seen all this before. From the too-ramshackled wooden crate serving as Woyzeck’s seat, to the perfect newspaper circle that surrounds him, I just can’t help thinking that, yes, I have seen all this before. It is simply the ill-advised module assessment of Drama School students who are mixing up their Modernists.

If you do a rubbish set, do a good rubbish set. I can’t say this enough. The design of Woyzeck! is reprehensible. The sound design is comedic, from the laughable on-stage Scene Transition Sound to the Dramatic Ending Music.

If you costume an individual, costume them. I understand, cords are awesome, but are they right for Woyzeck!? Did someone say lighting design? Did someone say red wash? Blood red wash, just like the blood red blood on Woyzeck’s bloody hands. Subtly does it gang – we wouldn’t wanna give anything away. And I understand Stevan, sometimes the urge to sample your favourite band is just too much; I was a teenager once. What a juvenile expression of pathos.

The sole merit of this obvious, ill-conceived production is its lead. Gareth Somers’ performance is in his turn gripping, graceful and charming. He is well capable of delivering melodrama, farce and pantomime – I understand that this is maybe unintentional. As an exercise in caricature Somers’ performance is strong, but for the production’s profound attitude it might be powerful. Unfortunately, in context Gareth’s unfortunate stammering stereotype is a weak response to Büchner’s seminal work, and that goes for the whole lot of you.

How many gwziad?

Who are you?

Colm Summers


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