Buchner Drama Slowed by Emotional Disconnection

Article excerpt

Byline: Barbara Vitello Daily Herald Staff Writer

"Woyzeck"

* * out of four

Location: Live Bait Theatre, 2914 N. Clark St., Chicago

Times: 8 p.m. Thursday to Saturday; 3 p.m. Sunday through Dec. 17

Running time: About 90 minutes, no intermission

Parking: On the street

Tickets: $20

Box office: (312) 458-0718 or www.greasyjoan.org

Rating: For older teens and adults; adult content, some violence

"Woyzeck" is the kind of theater we're supposed to like.

Georg Buchner's brooding play about Franz Woyzeck, an impoverished member of the working poor, dehumanized by his superiors and betrayed by his lover, has everything we could want in a drama: lust, passion, violence and revenge.

Add to that a stinging indictment of early 19th century socio- political conditions and the reputation of its celebrated author - who influenced Bertolt Brecht and laid the groundwork for modern theater - and you have the makings of great drama. This despite the fact that the play (inspired by a true story) remained unfinished after the author's untimely death in 1837, at age 23. Not published until 1879, it has been reworked several times, most famously by composer Alban Berg who used it as the inspiration for his 1925 opera "Wozzeck."

Adapted and directed by Neo-Futurist auteur Greg Allen, Greasy Joan and Company's stylized production piques the intellect and pleases the senses. Rachel Damon's discrete, distinctive lighting design features the clever use of bare bulbs. Marcus Stephens's rustic set - with its faded pink and beige carnival tent backdrop and its crude wooden stage - adds to the production's tattered charm.

But for all that, this revival left me cold. …