Caucasian Chalk Circle

The Governor and his wife are forced to flee in the wake of a peasant uprising, but neglect to take their newborn baby with them. Maid Grusha takes care of the boy and becomes increasingly attached until she feels he is her own son. When the birth parents return, who will keep custody of the heir to power? Bertold Brecht’s classic retelling of the Chinese legend is here retold once more in flawless ensemble performance by 3BUGS fringe theatre.A Grand Guignol aesthetic has lead to lovely, eccentric costuming featuring black lipstick, multiple ties and cheese cubes in Y-fronts (don’t ask) and this depth and unity of vision permeates through every aspect of the production. Acting is melodramatic in the best sense, combining an exhilarating pace with great clarity especially in the case of Georgie the Governor’s wife, who seems to have twice as much to say as everyone else in about half the time and pulls it all off with an ease Helena Bonam-Carter would be proud of. A strong cast means that multiple roles are largely concealed, although very strong similarities between the hilariously sadistic army sergeant and her other roles meant that those characters received more emphasis than their role in the text justifies.The music composed for the Singer verges on the repetitive, and I found myself dreading her entries as they often got in the way of the story; of course, this is likely Brecht’s intention, but knowing that didn’t help me escape the tedium. The full-cast singing moments were the weakest moments in an otherwise well-executed production, and it was a shame that the company wasn’t confident enough to cut their losses and leave the music out. If a few bum notes won’t ruin your day, then the vitality and fun of this production will blow you away.

Reviews by James T. Harding

Pleasance Courtyard

Creatives

★★
Bedlam Theatre

The Duck Pond

★★★★★

The Blurb

Brecht's play retold like never before. The classic tale is energised through a fusion of music, puppetry and physical movement, bringing alive this moral yet comic masterpiece. 'An unmissable experience' ***** (ThreeWeeks for 3BUGS' 'Ophelia Drowning').