Edinburgh Fringe 2010
This adaptation is thoroughly enjoyable, darkly comic and creative. With a fantastic ensemble- like cast who play a variety of characters and inventive staging and audience interaction, this is defiantly worth a watch by Brecht fans.
A rich and noble couple are forced to leave their house when the uprising town citizens rampage their house. In a hurried fit the wife accidentally leaves her child – Michael – behind. Grusha, a poor peasant maid, saves the child and takes it to the mountains, in fear the radicals will kill him. Before she flees, she agrees to marry a soldier, Simon. Eventually, after a forced marriage and a long time away from her native city, she is found and taken to court to prove that the child is not hers and, in order to decide the true parenthood of the child, it is placed in a chalk circle and pulled from either side.
In a-typical Brecht fashion, most of the cast are either on stage, visible offstage or in the audience the entire time, which works really well, apart from when you can hear and see the cast laughing amongst each other in the performance – which kind of ruins the professional feel to the piece. Having said that, the way the cast performs is so sharp which is very impressive. The cast is obviously tight, which shows through their onstage report with each other.
In a not overly humorous script, the team has done well to make this quite comic throughout by the bizarre and intuitive characterization. I’m not sure whether this as devised or directed, but either way credit is due. The time flies by in a frenzy of devised characters all of which are charming to watch.
More song and music would have pushed this piece into the top ring of theatre at the fringe as the narrator is the only character who really sings throughout. As she is the only one, it feels like a bit of an afterthought and not like a showcase of Brecht-ian techniques.
This is a really fun and interesting adaptation of a classic. It’s not as inspirational as ‘Ophelia’ was last year, but it is equally as impressive as a production. This group are clearly having a lot of fun working together, which makes it a joy to watch on stage.