Woyzeck, FJF, now playing at the New Ohio Theatre, is a reimagining of Georg Büchner’s, unfinished play. Set in a mental institution, Friedrich Johann Franz Woyzeck is attempting to piece together where he is and why he is there while losing his grip on reality.
As in most adaptations, Woyzeck, FJF does not stick strictly to the source material but still keeps the spirit of the original play. In this adaptation, the Doctor is performing his peas experiment on Woyzeck’s roommate Andres, who might or might not be figment of Woyzeck’s imagination. Background about Woyzeck, including his wife’s affair with the drum major and work for the Captain, is doled out in these repetitive cycles with the same lines and moments replaying again and again. The Doctor asks Woyzeck if he is still “going about [his] duties,” the Captain and Doctor tell Woyzeck he is “philosophizing again,” and the Doctor promising that in “just a few more days,” it will all be over. The constant repetition kept me disoriented and put me in the mindset of Woyzeck, pushing through the noise and searching for clarity and truth.
The more that an audience member knows about the original play, the more they will get out of Woyzeck, FJF. As for myself, I was unfamiliar with Woyzeck going in, and I decided to go in cold to see if the play stood on its own, apart from its source material. It is not something that I would recommend for this show. The cast, particularly James Kautz of The Amoralists, kept me engaged in the action, even when I felt lost, but the way that the story unfolds, it is helpful to understand the basics of Woyzeck. I was able to work it all out by the end of the play, but my face probably looked something like this for most of the 70-minute running time:
This doesn’t mean that Woyzeck, FJF isn’t a good adaptation of Woyzeck. Quite the opposite. Woyzeck, FJF is a sad and distressing look into poverty, morality, and madness, and writers Jeremy Duncan Pape and D.L. Siegel managed to keep all the themes of the original play while putting their own spin on it. However, I would definitely recommend doing a little reading up on the original play before going in.
Woyzeck, FJF opened March 5 at the New Ohio Theatre, located at 154 Christopher Street, and will run through March 21. Tickets are $20 and available at the box office, by phone at 1-888-596-1027, or online here.
March 4-8 at 8:00 PM
March 11-15 at 8:00 PM
March 18-21 at 8:00 PM