‘Woyzeck’ brings circus freaks to Campus

Johanna Poppel

The University Theatre Association presented “Woyzeck” at the Performing Arts Center Aug. 19-26.

Although the German playwright of “Woyzeck,” Georg Buchner, died in 1837 before he could finish his work, the production has since become one of the most influential and performed plays in German theatre history.

“Woyzeck” includes the issue of unethical testing and the effects of doctors and the military on a young man’s life.

It is often viewed as a working class tragedy, portraying the adverse effects of intense human jealousy.

Originally, the play featured a military setting.

Director Chelsey Tighe, also starring as Margret in the play, decided with her staff to set the scene in a freak show.

“The show deals with the dehumanizing nature of medical experiments and societal normalcies while looking at more complex themes of adultery, poverty and religion,” Tighe said. “They translate to the core of not only working class issues but worldly, political motivations.”

Woyzeck, the main character, played by University of Kansas sophomore Kyle Little, is the father of a son born out of wedlock with his love Marie, a bearded lady in the freak show, played by junior Grace Knobbe.

Woyzeck makes his living as the captain’s barber and by being the subject in medical experiments conducted by Vet, played by Kansas City local Joe Wheeler.

Woyzeck is portrayed as a down-to-earth, pessimistic and bitter man.

The captain, played by sophomore Frank Lillig, gradually pushes Woyzeck to insanity.

The topics of social class and poverty are undercurrents throughout the play.

As Woyzeck shaves his head, the captain makes a comment linking social status and wealth with morality, suggesting Woyzeck has no values or morals because of his poverty.

As Woyzeck’s mental health begins to deteriorate, he complains of blindness and experiences apocalyptic visions.

Meanwhile, promiscuous Marie grows tired of Woyzeck and falls for the handsome and dreamy drum major, played by senior Aaron Markrian.

Woyzeck becomes suspicious of this romance, and, out of a jealous rage, kills Marie. Afterward, he is confronted and killed by his community of “freaks.”

“Society outcasts certain members due to their abnormalities,” Tighe said. “It seemed only fitting to observe these outcasts rejecting Woyzeck for being ‘normal.’”

Other characters include Andres a humorous, constantly-drunk big yellow bird and Woyzeck’s best friend, played by student John Van Winkle.

The seer, a sick, twisted fortuneteller, was played by sophomore Taylor Silvestro.

The quiet and eerie carnival announcer was played by senior Tess Roam.

All the characters brought together a great, unique musical experience that matched the theme of the play perfectly, including lyrics such as, “Everything goes to Hell anyway” and “Misery is the river of the world, everybody row.”

Despite the dark and pessimistic play setting, the cast’s performance was both well balanced and outstanding, sure to make you laugh and have a good time.

Excitement and audience involvement was induced by the cast singing songs in the audiences only inches from the faces of the front row.

Dark twists and unexpected humor intertwine in this whimsical play of love and bitterness that offers great songs with even better voices from the exceptional cast.

I definitely would recommend this play to anyone yearning for something unique and historical.

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