Woyzeck! is a one-man show and an interesting take on Buchner's timeless tale. The piece examines the retrospective inner-turmoil of Woyzeck after his downfall. Woyzeck is a lowly soldier who has been subjected to an experiment by a doctor in order to raise money for his wife and child. His downward spiral is amplified by whispers regarding his wife's loyalty.
The primary flaw of the piece lay in the fact that Woyzeck is not wholly suited to being performed as a one-man show
The director, Stevan Mijailovic, is clear about his vision by keeping the set simple and bare, the effect being that we concentrate solely on the emotion presented without any distractions. The oh-so-simple use of scrunched up newspaper allowed for the creation of a multitude of scenes and lasting images, a wholly successful effect which exemplified the inspired approach to the set. It was a precious example of theatre being stripped back to its basics.
Gareth Somers produced a fine performance in a testing adaptation of the story. It was a slow start however: Woyzeck's burdened nature results in a laborious task for the audience to engage with him early on. Yet a much-needed injection of energy came in the form of Somers' portrayal of the characters of the Doctor and the Captain. The complete transformation created a factor of entertainment that everyone warmed to, something which was magnified further with small inclusions of audience interaction. The juxtaposition between these hyperbolic caricatures and the more focused nature of Woyzeck allowed Somers to display a strong diversity, culminating in a chilling finale.
The primary flaw of the piece lay in the fact that Woyzeck is not wholly suited to being performed as a one-man show. Though the format allows a close examination of the central character's torment, it forgoes many other vital aspects of Buchner's masterpiece; notable omissions included any real exploration of the multiple moral dilemmas of the play or any depth to the other characters. The scenes which included dialogue felt a little clunky during the repeated changes between characters, whilst an important moment between Marie and the Drum Major felt incomplete, thus confirming that the format was not suitable for the entirety of the adaptation. Meanwhile there were occasional clashes of register with a handful of modern inclusions feeling incongruous with Buchner's original language.
This should not take away from the fact that the characters were well-acted and entertaining from the clearly talented Gareth Somers and the drama still managed to successfully pack a punch with the audience.