Theatre Review: Woyzeck – Georg Buchner

Woyzeck Review
by Tim Berendse
Deutsches Theater, Berlin

As Georg Büchner lay on his deathbed on the 19th February 1837 in his Zurich exile at only 23 years old, he left an unfinished, unread play that would one day be called ‘Woyzeck’.
This new adaptation at the Deutsches Theater, Berlin is by Robert Wilson, the famous Texan director, with music by the great Tom Waits taken from his 2002 album ‘Blood Money’.
The set consisted of an arena-like construction with high curved sides so it resembled half of a stadium, a path in the middle led to a flat acting space downstage. The set was used very effectively, with actors running at full speed around this half-stadium construction as if they were racing around a Velodrome. It was also used as a rooftop setting as actors clambered up the sides from behind it. The backstage area was bare and completely open to the audience, so the musicians could be seen behind the set.
The characters were very representational in their costumes and in their actions, for example, the extravagant drum major threw gold coloured confetti everywhere he went and the Field Marshal was very slow and deliberate in everything he did while Woyzeck himself was very nervous and rash in his actions.
Tom Waits’ music was fantastic and really worked in intertwining with the play’s themes of love, death, wealth and insanity. This was accompanied by terrific acting by all of the main characters, however, some of the minor characters were very weak, this may have been due to the fact that their characters were not very clearly defined and had no depth. Some parts of the plot were also not very clear, but this may just be because my understanding of German is not perfect.
The humour was played very well and was a very sharp juxtaposition to the tragedy at the end of the play, where Woyzeck stabs the mother of his child to death because he suspects she is having an affair with the drum major, and as a result of his dwindling mental health. Because this play was never finished, directors through the years have re-written the play to their liking, for example, Robert Wilson chose to leave out Woyzeck’s suicide at the end of the play. This omission coupled with the many songs and dances softened the real brutality of the play. This is the real fault I found in this production, it was tragic, but not tragic enough.
Otherwise it was a fantastic play, and I hope that Tom Waits does more music for theatre in the future.


Website: (Acessed on 28/02/11)