I don’t really like Brecht. I find it stilted and hugely German. I don’t like being dramatically talked down to (“look we are ACTORS and look we are ACTING”), and I don’t like simplistic analogies forced upon me (“it may SEEM to be about a humble peasant but actually it’s all about capitalism BEING AWFUL HAHA I TRICKED YOU LISTEN TO MY COMMUNIST PROPAGANDA”). Nevertheless, last week I still went to see Screw the Looking Glass’s production of The Caucasian Chalk Circle at the Oxford Playhouse. I did not hate it.
Let me just say straight out as I always seem to that the production design really was FANTASTIC. I’m all about shadow art, and weird puppets, and accordians playing a large role in anything, and all of the above were featured. The setting was far and away the best part, although there were some other good parts too – in the big roles Luke Rollason gave a performance full of physical comedy of the highest standard (although this unfortunately made Connie Greenfield’s leading lady appear rather drab and forced). The ensemble supporting cast stole the show; Emma D’Arcy really outdid herself in background muttering and a pigeon-strutting lawyer; Grainne O’Mahoney was fabulously snooty and bizarrely sympathetic; Howard Coase was awkwardly excellent as usual.
And yes that is literally all I have to say as, you guessed it, I did fall asleep more than once and yes, it probably contributed to my overall ability to judge the production. I live a busy and important life and dark rooms with comfy chairs and ambient music instantly transform me into a one hundred year old man. Ultimately though, it was still Brecht, and although I didn’t hate it it was still Brecht. Good job all round, my one suggestion would be next time please perform things that are not Brecht.