04 May 2009

Woyzeck – an adaptation by Anmol Vellani at Rangashankara

Woyzeck by Georg Büchner is set in Prussia in the 1830s. He left the work incomplete at his death, but it has been variously and posthumously "finished" by a variety of authors, editors and translators and has become one of the most performed and influential plays in the German theatre repertory.
An adaptation of Woyzeck by Anmol Vellani was playing at Rangashankara. As I read the synopsis I thought ...it sounds quite depressing but it would be a play where a good actor can create magic...and was I right...but more on that later.
It is the story of Franz Woyzeck, a disturbed soldier with an illegitimate child by his mistress Marie. Woyzeck earns extra money for his family by performing menial jobs for the Captain and agreeing to take part in medical experiments conducted by the Doctor.
As the play proceeds we see that there is deterioration in his mental health and he has hallucinations. Meanwhile, Marie grows tired of Woyzeck and turns her attentions to a handsome Drum Major.
With his jealousy and suspicion, Woyzeck confronts the drum major, who beats him up and humiliates him. This leads Woyzeck to murder Marie and then kill himself.
The set was very simple, using very few props and a cardboard wall… but still very effective. Infact what I must appreciate is that even with the minimalist set, I can compare it in effectiveness to the plays that I have seen in West End which rely so much on detailed sets, costumes and live music.
A special mention must be given to Anish Victor who as Woyzeck gave an outstanding performance. It was intense...so intense that you could see the beads of perspiration on his forehead. In one scene where he is supposed to faint he falls from a small wooden box and gasps were heard from the audience. He was sooo still at that moment that we felt he had actually fallen down and was not acting...BRILLIANT.
Generally his portrayal of a disturbed man was so convincing. His eyes, his facial expressions and the way he spoke...all was awesome. The other actors were good to, but just paled in front of him.
The other actor that I really liked was the Tavern Keeper. She carried herself well and her role gave the much needed comedy in the otherwise somber mood of the play.
All in all...a brilliant evening which convinced me that theatre is about ACTING and in the end the stage, props, costumes and music don't matter.

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