Wed 1st – Mon 27th August 2018


Georgina Macrae

at 19:12 on 15th Aug 2018



Five soldiers start to move to ‘I Put a Spell on You’ and they immediately convey exhaustion, strain and an uneasy sense that there is some dark power at work. With this, the audience is plunged straight into a brilliant piece of physical theatre and drama. Throughout, the scene changes are seamless and clever. The lighting choices are powerful. The music choices are great. And, most importantly, the cast of five make a superb team, creating atmospheres, setting scenes and re-directing the audience’s attention to follow the shifts in the action.

As far as I could tell, all five members were constantly on stage. Each has at least one named part but they also whisper in backgrounds, play as observers of others, march as a set of exhausted soldiers, make simple white sheets into a variety of sets, and share one another’s lines. This last technique really consolidates the five as a group capable of creating internal mental atmospheres, with each member fitting as a piece in a puzzle as opposed to them only playing their individual roles well. Steel buckets, rope and maybe four white sheets are all this cast needed to create all sorts of effects. The uses of steel buckets to patter out the sound of rain on a roof, and elsewhere as the marching drums of soldiers, were inspired.

The moments in which the whole cast were involved were brilliant – and I’ve been craving neat physical theatre and movement like that at the Fringe. But I also admired all individual parts at points of the play. Phoebe Campbell, playing Marie, was the first to really grab my attention, for her wonderfully expressive face. She played the door of a circus (with a solid grin) and an eager doctor (greedily measuring body deterioration) as fantastically as she did a poor woman admiring a gifted piece of jewellery. But I congratulate the whole cast- Rosa, Hamish, and Alex were all great: Tullio Campanale also needs a special mention for swinging from a very creepy doctor, to company parts, to a flirtatious Drum Major. In character, he transforms from his voice to his demeanour and even the slant of his eyes. Considering that all five actors were on stage, it was always made very clear which characters we were watching.

The hour flew by, and the piece was so fluid that the storyline itself was occasionally unclear. But I think it added to the show, being about mental decline and reflecting the experiences of an increasingly fragmented mind. I went to a sell-out show with an impressed audience – see this if you can.


Hugh Kapernaros

at 10:00 on 16th Aug 2018



It was a full house at the Pleasance Dome for the showing of 'Woyzeck' by Spies Like Us, and rightfully so. The young cast were well rehearsed and refined; flawlessly pulling together a performance packed with physical theatre, excellent tech and moving dialogue. Deserving of the buzz surrounding it, the play is fast-paced, intense and thought provoking, albeit sometimes a little bit predictable.

Clever lighting and a perfectly selected soundscape made the play. Lights hidden in the bases of steel buckets illuminated the casts faces as they transformed the stage into an eerie lake, a barber’s chair or a circus of psychopathy. The creators used all at their disposal to form the distorted post-wartime world of 'Woyzeck' - no easy feat considering the amount of roles, settings and fractured psyches they assumed - and their use of props was versatile and effective.

The ensemble was exceptionally talented. Leading man Alex Holley’s performance was a stand out - his pulsing neck veins and dripping sweat a testament to his dedication to the role. Another highlight was Phoebe Campbell; her facial expressions Shakespearian in theatricality and conviction. Although the first half was short of group-cohesion - it seemed their individual energies were never really simultaneously on the same level - they warmed to each other and cultivated good physical chemistry throughout complicated movement sequences.

Admittedly, it’s difficult taking on themes of war, abuse and insanity without coming off as a bit GCSE Drama. Unfortunately, the show just wasn’t particularly innovative: you’d hope at this point there’d be a new way to portray insanity, rather than surrounding the afflicted individual whispering instructions to “stab the she-wolf!”. I found the direction inoffensive - a recycling of familiar theatrical tropes. Undeniably, they were done very well, but I was left wanting something more in the way of edge.

'Woyzeck' is worth a watch for some great physical theatre, an interesting plot line and an incredible young cast. Don’t hold your breath for anything new, but be excited for a polished and impressive performance.


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