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Woyzeck, FJF, now playing at the New Ohio Theatre, is clear and direct, but theatergoers may be more impressed with its musicality, rather than its power.  Music, of course, has long been associated with the work, notably, the 1922 opera by Alban Berg and, more recently, Robert Wilson’s production with collaborator Tom Waits.  Some may see a parallel with Sweeney Todd, too, since the play is about a barber who becomes a murderer. But Woyzeck is distinguished enough as is—it’s considered the first modern drama, an unfinished play by the young German playwright Georg Buchner, written circa 1837 (Buchner died at age 24). Based on a real crime, it has influenced Brecht and Wedekind and been directed by Ingmar Bergman and Werner Herzog.  Part of the challenge of the play is, in fact, how to apportion its cyanide cocktail of realism (which can become cold and clinical, as it is here) and expressionism.  Buchner, a welcome playwright in any season, has gripping undercurrents of fear, dread, horror, and sadism, as part of his build to violence and the hallucinatory. Director Jeremy Duncan Pape (using an adaptation by himself and D. L. Siegel) prefers to convince us that we are in reality, instead of incorporating many overt dreamlike segues. He patiently waits to surprise us—and you will wince–as he pulls together all his leitmotifs in the end.   Buchner’s vision seems to want to disorient us, shock us, and upset us, as we go along. What the No-Win production delivers is more a variation of Milos Forman’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest than a rationale to find today’s equivalents for claustrophobic nineteenth-century German fatalism and social oppression. Pape’s straightforwardness is a change in key. 

With James Kautz,  Evangeline Fontaine, Alessandro Colla, Isreal McKinney Scott, Jason Wilson, Mackenzie Knapp.

No-Win Productions’ World Premiere of Georg Büchner’s Woyzeck, FJF, adapted by Jeremy Duncan Pape and D.L. Siegel, and directed by Jeremy Duncan Pape.  Performances take place from February 28 – March 21 (opens March 5) in a limited engagement at the New Ohio Theatre (154 Christopher St.) in NYC. For more info you can visit https://www.Facebook.com/NoWinProductions

Press: DARR Publicity

Above: James Kautz as Woyzeck, Evangeline Fontaine as Marie, Alessandro Colla as Doctor, Isreal McKinney Scott as Andres. Photograph: Russ Rowland.

(c) 2015 by Bob Shuman.  All rights reserved.

 

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