Woyzeck (2008/2009)

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"... has to rank as one of the most colourful and intelligent interpretations of the work"

British Theatre Guide

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"... an exceptional show - bold, accessible and entertaining"

The Public Reviews

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"Vibrant and vivacious theatre!"

Three Weeks

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"... exactly the right degree of momentum and interaction with the audience."

South Wales Argus

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"Really inspiring, reminded me what I good job I have!"

Malcolm Judge, Head of Drama,
Austin Friars School

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"Highly energetic pace - great adaptation and interpretation... Stunning interaction with students"

Liz Johnson, John of Gaunt School

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"So much energy... transformed our space into a theatrical experience. Professional, talented and knowledgeable"

Gemma Woffinden, Team Leader,
Brigshaw High School

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"Splendid is part of our exam level curriculum!"

Jude Summers, Head of Drama,
William Farr C of E School

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"A stunning interpretation, entirely appropriate (but not patronising) to the target audience... Outstanding performers and the very best workshop leaders I have known."

Guy Levensley, Drama Teacher,
Repton School

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"Outstanding acting and very clear Brechtian principles ... Everything is always compared to Splendid. You are hugely respected - rightly so."

Jo Capon, Head of Drama,
Reading School

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"They got Brecht! They got Brook! They get it!"

Helen Whelan, Head of Drama,
Parkstone Grammar School

Woyzeck is sold a knife
Woyzeck
Money
Woyzeck & Marie
Traveller
The Gift
Stab the bitch dead
Soldier Woyzeck
Shaving the Captain
Woyzeck murders Marie
Monkey
Beat me like a drum
Marie & Drum Major
Marie_&_Christian_Closer
The Jew
Grandma
Player introduces the fight
Fight_Fists
Fighting
Drum Major, slapped
Drum Major
Further examination
Doctor examines Woyzeck
Doctor & Woyzeck
A woman is killed
Drum Major and Marie dance
Dance
Children
Captain
Drum Major & Marie
Barman

 Scott Smith, Kerry Frampton and Alasdair Shanks in Splendid’s 2008 production of Woyzeck (photos: Lewis Wileman)

‘Woyzeck’ is Georg Büchner’s famous unfinished play about the lowly soldier Franz Woyzeck’s descent into murderous madness. Living in poverty, with his woman, Marie, and a child to support, Woyzeck has agreed to become a medical experiment for the regimental Doctor. But is it his diet of peas that leads him into the forest with a knife, or the rumours of what Marie has been doing with the peacocking Drum Major?

Taking the Brechtian idea of episodic theatre to its natural conclusion, we tell the story of Woyzeck as a sequence of scenes that play in a seemingly random order. Three performers switch in and out of multiple roles, acting as hosts and guides, introducing each scene as a music hall act, as piece by piece the whole picture is revealed.

By turns horrific and hilarious, ‘Woyzeck’ uses minimal props, lighting and costume and an abundance of theatrical invention to draw the audience into a fractured world.

The film of the 2008 production is no longer available – our 2014 production can be streamed instantly here

Edinburgh Fringe 2009 poster design: Kerry Frampton

Splendid Productions’ ‘Woyzeck’
Toured Sept 2008 – March 2009
Written by: Georg Büchner
Adapted by: Ben Hales, Mal Smith
Directed by: Mal Smith, Lucy Cuthbertson
Songs by:  Ben Hales & Duke Special, Mal Smith
Design by: Kerry Frampton
Movement by: Rosie McKay

Cast & Characters

Scott Smith: Woyzeck
Kerry Frampton:
Marie, Doctor, Captain
Alasdair Shanks: Drum Major, The Jew, Grandmother, Policeman

with thanks to: Kidbrooke School staff and students, Molly Bertrand and Matt Wilde

More about Woyzeck

“A stunning interpretation, entirely appropriate to the target audience… The day gives practical training and exposure to a very high standard of professional ability… Outstanding performers and the very best workshop leaders I have known.”
Guy Levensley, Drama Teacher, Repton School, Derbyshire

“Superb as always – terrific example of the style… Splendid is part of our exam level curriculum!”
Jude Summers, Head of Drama, William Farr C of E School

read more…

“A stunning interpretation, entirely appropriate (but not patronising) to the target audience… The day gives practical training and exposure to a very high standard of professional ability… Outstanding performers and the very best workshop leaders I have known.”
Guy Levensley, Drama Teacher, Repton School, Derbyshire

“Superb as always – terrific example of the style… Splendid is part of our exam level curriculum!”
Jude Summers, Head of Drama, William Farr C of E School

“The post-show discussion was the best I’ve experienced. Really inspiring, reminded me what I good job I have!”
Malcolm Judge, Head of Drama, Austin Friars

“Highly energetic pace – great adaptation and interpretation… mixture of comedy and pathos! Stunning interaction with students”
Liz Johnson, John of Gaunt School, Trowbridge

“I thought its simplicity was magical and inspirational”
Pip Cawte, Head of Drama, Queen Elizabeth’s Hospital, Bristol

“Really engaging and accessible! The students had soooo much to say and loved the acting style… Fab work, fab reputation… You are a lovely company to have in and always produce high-quality work”
Amy Southworth, Head of Drama, Richmond School

“So much energy… transformed our space into a theatrical experience. Professional, talented and knowledgeable”
Gemma Woffinden, Team Leader, Brigshaw High School

“Your quality is summed up by a student who told me after the workshop ‘I now love Brecht’ – something I could not have done.”
Neil Stimson, Head of Drama, Toot Hill School

“Imaginative and thought-provoking… Very professional and approachable… Thanks for a great day – just what we wanted!”
Catherine Roberts, Head of Drama, Westholme School

“Always good to see Brecht being so much fun!”
Sue Grajczonek, Head of Drama, Our Lady’s RC High School, Oldham

“Excellent performance… Fantastic enthusiasm from workshop leaders.”
Kim De Large, Drama Teacher, William Farr C of E School

“Outstanding acting and very clear Brechtian principles … Everything is always compared to Splendid. You are hugely respected – rightly so.”
Jo Capon, Head of Drama, Reading School

“Brilliant… Best afternoon of all year!”
Phil Gascoyne, Head of Drama, Brookfield Community School

“Fun but challenging… the performance was sensational”
Kym Martin, Head of Drama, Cobham Hall

“Fantastic, energetic, visually and creatively exciting… We love Splendid! All their work supports our syllabus… Friendly, organised, efficient and FUN!”
Emma Webb, Acting Head of Drama, Townley Grammar School

“The performance made a difficult text lively and engaging – it absolutely exceeded my expectations. An incredibly worthwhile visit”
Claire Hodge, Head of Drama, Greenshaw High School

“Amazing theatre… your style was so impacting and impressive”
Heather Andrew, Head of Drama, Pipers Corner School

“Quality and professionalism”
Karen Eastwood, Head of Drama, Boroughbridge High School

“We have always been impressed with Splendid Productions”
Sarah Addison, Head of Drama, Ousedale School

“The high standard of physical characterisation, inventive staging and clear Brechtian styling was a joy to watch. The students loved it!… Splendid are consistently impressive, and a pleasure to bring in… It was the most stripped back performance since ‘Ui’ and all the stronger for it, allowing the strong physical performances and sense of Spass to stand out.”
Ross Geoghegan, Head of Drama, Cotham School, Bristol

“Excellent – Brecht stripped back to its bare essentials… Engaging, funny, accessible and thought-provoking… Quality assured”
Stuart Borrill, Assistant Head, Nicholas Breakspear Catholic School

“They got Brecht! They got Brook! They get it!”
Helen Whelan, Head of Drama, Parkstone Grammar School, Dorset

Press on Woyzeck

… an exceptional show – bold, accessible and entertaining”
The Public Reviews – Read the whole review…

Woyzeck, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, August 2009
Reviewed by The Public Reviews

Splendid Productions have acheived the impossible – they’ve made Woyzeck fun! This innovative production takes Büchner’s classic text and put a new spin on it, throwing out the notion that a play should be shown in chronological order, and instead presenting the 24 acts in different styles and order, even repeating one (Scene 18) three times, to great effect.

As the audience enters, the white-faced performers chat to them, asking for show recommendations, bantering, and generally setting them at ease. A variety of instruments are being played, and many more sit at the sides, with only a metal frame with cloth for a set, and an easel stage right to display the titles and numbers of each scene. The three-strong cast of Scott Smith (Woyzeck), Kerry Frampton (Marie) and Mal Smith (Drum Major) are confident and welcoming, and you know you are in for a treat.

Based on true events, the play tells the story of Woyzeck: an impoverished soldier who agrees to be amateur barber to his captain and a ginea-pig for medical experiements in order to support his girlfriend (Marie) and their child. Overwraught and paranoid, Woyzeck begins to hear voices, and when he learns Marie has betrayed him through an affair with the Drum Major, murders her.

With a strong mix of comedy, mime, and music, Splendid Productions’ excellent actors disect the story, beginning with the murder then working their way through the causes for it. Multifaceted, hilarious moments such as the song in ‘Scene 12 – Stab the Bitch Dead’, which the audience joins in with, take a more sinister turn as Woyzeck responds: “Alright, I will”, leaving us to realise we represent the voices in his head and have just set him on his murderous mission.

The mime elements of the show are particularly strong, and beautifully understated. There is comic gold in ‘Scene 14 – A Fight’, when the Drum Major completes Woyzeck’s total humiliation by beating him up. It is presented through mime, movement and sound, with each punch, kick and groan orchestrated – simply superb slapstick!

In addition to the comedy and amazing physicality of the performance, at the core is really good acting. Woyzeck is presented as a sympathetic sort of killer; a man who thinks far too much, and is overwhelmed by the world. Marie, worn down by his morbid philosophising, is drawn to the confident, pompous Drum Major, a man who can offer her an escape from her dreary existance. Woyzeck’s heartfelt sorrow in ‘Scene 8: No She Wouldn’t, Yes She Did’ is palpable, and Marie’s emotive line “I would rather a knife in my body than your hand on mine” both crushes him further and foreshadows her death.

All in all this is an exceptional show – bold, accessible and entertaining. Mal Smith, in the dual role of Director and Actor, is a pleasure to watch; and both Scott Smith and Kerry Frampton showcase their obvious talent and passion. I await the company’s next production of Faustus with baited breath.
[Deborah Klayman]

… exactly the right degree of momentum and interaction with the audience.”
South Wales Argus – Read the whole review…

Woyzeck, The Blake Theatre, 2 February 2009
Reviewed by South Wales Argus

It’s almost impossible for a theatre company not to put its personal stamp on Georg Buchner’s Woyzeck, his play about a hapless soldier out of joint with the world.

Originally conceived as a series of short scenes and bequeathed to posterity in 1837 as a fragment when Buchner died of typhoid at 23, the invitation to personal rendition is almost built in.

But any liberties taken, such as shuffling the scenes before presentation and even repeating them – in this case, Woyzeck’s brutal murder of his common-law wife Marie is performed more than once – are invariably acts of homage to the originator of expressionist drama.

Woyzeck does not evolve like a traditional play. It is a cinematic mixture of events, though lacking traditional cinema’s rigid and commercial dependence on a beginning, a middle and an end.

In this production the scenes are announced on cards in music-hall fashion and the cast of three (Scott Smith in the lead role, Alasdair Shanks and Kerry Frampton), playing eight characters with bravura, convey the double whammy of being irrational in a crazy world.

London-based Splendid, which specialises in political theatre aimed at young people, give it their all under directors Mal Smith and Lucy Cuthbertson, acting in the spirit as well as the literal sense of both the events depicted and their moral implications.

They use minimal props creatively and there is exactly the right degree of momentum and interaction with the audience.

Strolling players at a brisk pace, as it were.
[Nigel Jarrett]

… Vibrant and vivacious theatre!”
Three Weeks – Read the whole review…

Woyzeck, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, August 2009
Reviewed by Three Weeks

A pretty splendid production from Splendid Productions. Ashen-faced, scarlet-cheeked and elegantly-waistcoated, the three cast members jovially escort you to your seat and engage you with charming pleasantries.

Then the show begins with a banging of drums and they become a very sort-of roll-up, roll-up theatrical troop. Appropriately, given how this, Georg Buchner’s unfinished work was discovered – as a mixed up collection of pages – it isn’t performed in chronological order. This creates confusion initially and cohesion later on; by commencing with the brutal murder scene, it becomes more effective than typical constructions.

Particularly magnificent was the actress Kerry Frampton who played three very different characters; my special favourite was her portrayal of the captain which amused me endlessly. Vibrant and vivacious theatre!
[Barky Matthews]

… has to rank as one of the most colourful and intelligent interpretations of the work since Tom Waits and Robert Wilson go their hands on it”
British Theatre Guide – Read the whole review…

Woyzeck, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, August 2009
Reviewed by British Theatre Guide

Georg Büchner’s seminal play Woyzeck is given a bizarre and beautiful turn by Splendid Productions. Opting to clear up the dubious problems of the uncompleted manuscript by presenting the entire work as a series of non-chronological vignettes interspersed with vaudevillian musical medleys and cheerful chirping, the company have created what has to rank as one of the most colourful and intelligent interpretations of the work since Tom Waits and Robert Wilson go their hands on it.

Rather than dryly play out the admittedly dull story, they instead make light out of hammering out the meat of the play with a deft accompaniment of percussion and some excellent singing; including a moment of inspired lunacy in encouraging the entire audience to sing along with a musical rendition of the line “Stab, Stab, Stab the bitch dead.”

As well as subverting the usual interpretations, Splendid tear down the flimsy pretence of comedy subtly throughout the play as Woyzeck continually wears away his greasepaint from a clownish palid face replete with rosy cheeks to the grim harrowed face of a madman consumed by his guilt. The repetition of the fatalistic murder scene never ceases to be harrowing and seems to change in meaning throughout and gain resonance from the surrounding scenes no matter how anachronistic.

For those looking for something intelligent and different, you couldn’t go far wrong with this production and those who think they know Woyzeck should see how it appears after seeing it from a new angle.

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