Tales From the Vienna Woods

Following the interweaving stories of a community in 1940s Austria, Tales from the Vienna Woods largely focuses on the domestic disputes of the characters rather than the effects of the political situation at the time. There is a brief reference to the intrusion of Nazism but the writing here is too half-hearted to have any real effect on the rest of the action. Largely the play is coherent and engaging and the script gives the students a reasonable chance to stretch their acting muscles.The elements of physical theatre however, are less successful. Everyone’s heard the story about the friend who’s paying extortionate drama school fees only to spend two weeks moving like the magma, and this production does little to dispel that. With so many scene changes, it feels like these movements are used as time-fillers and are accessory to the action. Carrying a lump of bark across the stage in a slightly odd manner does not capture the soul of a forest. There is also little sense of the ensemble as synchronised movements and breaths are rarely in perfect time, a vital factor when even the slightest slip in focus can lose the audience.Thankfully the acting makes up for this. A show produced by the talent at Italia Conti drama school, one would always have expected the quality of acting to be reasonably high and the students don’t disappoint. The character of Marianna is conveyed particularly well as we watch the icy mistress’ world disintegrate between her stone-cold fingertips. The show is impressive, if slightly overlong; it’s just such a shame that there’s too strong a sense of the individual amidst the ensemble.

Reviews by Sam Kingston-Jones

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The Blurb

Set against the backdrop of the Vienna Woods and the distant tune of a Strauss waltz, a community concerns itself with affairs, squabbles, jealousies and personal tragedy. Meanwhile, society, haunted by inflation, reels towards Fascism.

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