Woyzeck | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

WOYZECK, the Hypocrites, at Voltaire. It's a bit facile for the Hypocrites to state in their program that German playwright Georg BŸchner, author of the visionary early-19th-century drama Woyzeck, "wasn't so much avante garde as he was crazy." Although the play remained a series of feverish fragments at BŸchner's death from typhus, Woyzeck anticipated absurdist, expressionist, and epic theater by nearly a century, exhibiting a tonal and thematic unity that speaks well for the writer's sanity. But then the Hypocrites clearly delight in being flip. One actress includes "yadda yadda yadda, blah blah blah" in her bio. The director signs his program note "Sean Graney, Some Guy."

If only that sense of abandon had spilled over into the production. The Hypocrites present the story of BŸchner's eponymous subnobody--driven mad and murderous by a rigidly hierarchical, morally atrophied society--in clear and accessible but generally perfunctory terms. As a result Woyzeck's journey becomes a series of unfortunate misadventures rather than a grotesque nightmare. Only Michelle Moe as Woyzeck's prostitute lover Marie plunges headfirst into the play's depths, maintaining such a pathetic demeanor that she seems to have spent her life being kicked in the face. Her final tragic confrontation with Woyzeck is something to behold. --Justin Hayford

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