New2Chicago’s Event Journal

Woyzeck 042711
Sunday May 15, 2011 / 5:00pm
2 tickets
General Admission (Today Only)

How was your experience?

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You can also find my review with links at This, I hope, is the most challenging review I will ever have to write. Woyzeck is a play by Georg Büchner that is comprised of a set of unfinished scenes composed sometime between 1836 and 1837. I attended the energetic, avant garde and decidedly attention-grabbing production mounted by The Hypocrites company at the Chopin Theatre cold - I knew nothing about the play, the story line, or the author. This turned out to be a significant error, and yet I can recommend the production anyway. The story line can be found briefly on Wikipedia (not that I endorse that site). As it is presented, it seems to be a compelling, linear story. As presented by The Hypocrites, it is anything but linear (unless one knows the story), and is a swirling mass of symbols, energy, blood and creativity. The staging itself is compelling: a melange of props, each with their own deeply-rooted symbology, an elevated stage with a river running through it, and one of the more intriguing openings I have seen. Much of the sound effects are provided by the actors, often in a Greek chorus-meets-acapela percussion that is both unsettling and convincing. The lighting is dramatic, and the direction seemed quite crisp. The actors threw themselves expertly into their roles, but (owing to my lack of knowledge) I was not always initially clear on what they were attempting to convey beyond the immediate scene. Yet slowly certain themes emerged, through clever repetition: the thumping of the heart accompanied by pulse-taking; the religious undertones, the drama of red blood on white fabric. I soon gained the compelling understanding that something deeper, richer was being communicated - I just couldn't tell you what it was. Having skimmed the play, I can attest to its openness to such an avant-garde production as was mounted, although I suspect it could be mounted more traditionally as well. My recommendation: digest at least the story line (the play is available in English online) before seeing this excellent production. Were there more hours in the day (or days in the week), I would definitely return for a second viewing after such a reading. On a side note, this was my first visit to the Chopin Theatre, and I am completely entranced with it overall. This is one venue I expect to be returning to many times.