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Secret Theatre: Show 1 review at Lyric Hammersmith London

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The Lyric’s Secret Theatre season is avowedly seeking to make changes to the way theatre is made, received and spoken about, but only behind closed doors. I’ve already made the mistake of making the title of its other show public in a tweet, but this time around I have respected the aura of surprise they are trying to conjure by saving the title for this review.

So if you still want to be surprised, do not read further.

But then George Buchner’s fractured, famously incomplete 19th century play Woyzeck is always a template for theatremakers to spring their own surprises with. And sadly, the biggest surprise of Sean Holmes’ atmospherically vivid but dramatically impenetrable production is what a pretentious bore he makes of it all.

Staged like a demented blurry cabaret, vignettes pass by in a rush of theatrical cliches that are long past their sell-by dates. Actors dressed in vests and underpants only clambering over each other as they grovel for food? Check. Actor swinging from a trapeze rope? Check. Actor on a leash endlessly running in circles? Check. Water and fake blood being liberally thrown around? Check mate.

I felt my mind was running in circles, too. It may well be that Buchner’s play holds an irresistible fascination for theatremakers determined to impose their own meaning on it, but I’m afraid I was at one with the character who endlessly repeated the mantra, “One thing after another, one thing after another”.

Production Information

Lyric Hammersmith, London, September 11-October 4

George Buchner (adapted by David Harrower, additional material by the company)
Sean Holmes
Lyric Hammersmith
Nadia Albina, Sergo Vares, Adelle Leonce, Leo Bill, Hammed Animashaun, Cara Horgan, Charlotte Josephine, Katherine Pearce, BIlly Seymour, Steven Webb
Running time
1hr 15mins

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