Woyzeck

4
Buchner's play at the new Omnibus, Clapham.
By Orlando - 22nd Nov 2013

Woyzeck, Omnibus, ReviewThis seminal unfinished work by Buchner, conceived around 1836 but not staged until 1913 by Max Reinhardt, still has the power to perplex, shock, amuse and create anger, through discomfort, for audiences. From fragments of work and reworks by Buchner the unfinished story of the Everyman Woyzeck is seen, by some, as a simple yet fume-filled crime of passion or/and a disintegration of the simple human mind through scientific experimentation on the individual. A philosophical treatise? A love story? Science versus God? Woyzeck is as complex and it is simple. Fragmented story telling as a Spiegel im Spiegel of the human condition.

Whatever this extraordinary is, the one thing we do know is that it was left unfinished by the author. This so-called ‘working class tragedy’ is very much in the hands of the director and company to assert its case for staging and then conclude as they see fit. In this telling, Robyn Winfield-Smith gives Woyzeck the final moments by the pond with a question to God. Some productions see him drown in the pond; cleansing himself of sin and blood. A possible salvation in either case? Perhaps. 

The new-opened and impressive Omnibus, the old Clapham library, is so perfectly suited for this 100th anniversary production as the building itself was built in 1889, now serving as an arts centre after being carefully and sensitively restored and reopened by the local community.  

Staged within the archways and reading rooms of the old librabry, Woyzeck is magnificently designed by Fly Davis, using every inch of the ground floor, its exposed walls, archways, ceilings and great width. This superb vista is sensationally lit by an evocative lighting design from Oliver Fenwick, under and over scored with haunting compositions from Gregory Batsleer. The design team for this inaugural production at Omnibus have set an artistic bar, and the bar is very high indeed. 

The superb cast is lead by Liam Smith as the fateful Woyzeck; mentally disintegrating from his simple life through the surreal and absurd renderings of a doctor and captain, played with witty, knowing playfulness by Nigel Hastings and Keiron Jecchinis. As a trio, they really grasped the reigns on vaudevillian physical and linguistic comedy, making Buchner’s existential rhetoric seem simple and totally accessible. Indeed, it is, at its core… just plain silly! 

Stunning puppet-work directed by Jimmy Grimes (War Horse) served as a super added treat for the highly metaphorical monkey-scene, which has been trained by his superior intellect – man – to entertain and ‘perform’ on demand. Plus a beautiful horse-head with white hooves to boot. Literally! 

Puppets, live music, dance, song, revelry, philosophy, love, danger, betrayal, passion, greed, murder, religion, morality and peas! A stunning and first-class beginning to the newest arts venue in London. Robyn Winfield-Smith is to be applauded for taking one of the most complex and important texts of the past 100 years; delivering a high-octane, visually arresting and fully accessible piece of theatre for a 21st Century audience. A class act. Very highly recommended.

Orlando Weston


Latest News & Reviews

28th Feb 24 :: Review: Cable Street
Seen at the Southwark Playhouse, Borough.
3
28th Feb 24 :: Review: Carlos Acosta - On Before
Seen at the Theatre Royal Plymouth
4
26th Feb 24 :: Offies Winners 2024
WInners of the Offies 2024 awards have been announced.
15th Feb 24 :: Review: The Drifters Girl
Touring production seen at the Theatre Royal Plymouth.
4
12th Feb 24 :: Review: Whatsonstage Awards Winners
The winners of the Whatsonstage Awards announced.
0
6th Feb 24 :: Review: Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell
Selected dates until 26 February at the Coach and Horses, 29 Greek Street, London W1D 5DH
4
5th Feb 24 :: Review: Macbeth
David Tennant and Cush Jumbo at the Donmar Warehouse
4
20th Jan 24 :: Review: Disney's Aladdin
Touring production seen at the Theatre Royal Plymouth.
4
19th Jan 24 :: Review: Alegria - Cirque du Soleil
The latest production seen at the Royal Albert Hall
3
20th Dec 23 :: Review: Goldilocks and the Three Bears
Pantomime seen at the Theatre Royal Plymouth
4
18th Dec 23 :: Review: Sleeping Beauty
Panto at the Pavilion Theatre, Worthing.
4
13th Dec 23 :: Review: A Christmas Carol
Guy Masterson's one-man production seen in Boscastle
5
7th Dec 23 :: Review: Oliver Twist
Seen at the Tobacco Factory in Bristol.
5
29th Nov 23 :: Review: 2:22 A Ghost Story
The 2023 tour seen at the Theatre Royal Plymouth
5
15th Nov 23 :: Review: Radio GaGa
Seen at the Adelphi Theatre, London.
3
13th Oct 23 :: Review: Birmingham Royal Ballet - Black Sabbath
Touring production seen at the Theatre Royal Plymouth.
5
6th Oct 23 :: Review: Sunset Boulevard
Seen at the Savoy Theatre
3
1st Oct 23 :: Review: Trompe L'Oeil
Seen at The Other Palace Studio
2
29th Sep 23 :: Review: A Little Life
Encore broadcast of the West End production at the Savoy
5
28th Sep 23 :: Review: Frank and Percy
Ian McKellen and Roger Allam seen in London
3

Most Popular Stories

13th Oct 23 :: Review: Birmingham Royal Ballet - Black Sabbath
Touring production seen at the Theatre Royal Plymouth.
15th Feb 24 :: Review: The Drifters Girl
Touring production seen at the Theatre Royal Plymouth.
26th Feb 24 :: Offies Winners 2024
WInners of the Offies 2024 awards have been announced.
13th Dec 23 :: Review: A Christmas Carol
Guy Masterson's one-man production seen in Boscastle
12th Feb 24 :: Review: Whatsonstage Awards Winners
The winners of the Whatsonstage Awards announced.
6th Feb 24 :: Review: Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell
Selected dates until 26 February at the Coach and Horses, 29 Greek Street, London W1D 5DH
18th Dec 23 :: Review: Sleeping Beauty
Panto at the Pavilion Theatre, Worthing.
28th Feb 24 :: Review: Carlos Acosta - On Before
Seen at the Theatre Royal Plymouth
5th Feb 24 :: Review: Macbeth
David Tennant and Cush Jumbo at the Donmar Warehouse
29th Nov 23 :: Review: 2:22 A Ghost Story
The 2023 tour seen at the Theatre Royal Plymouth

Listings powered by Dynamic Listing Ltd
Mastodon Multidomain certificate installed
© Dynamic Listing Ltd, UK. 1995-2024