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Review: Woyzeck, at the Old Vic

Star Wars actor John Boyega in George Büchner’s unfinished play that follows a soldier’s descent into tragedy

02 June, 2017 — By Julie Tomlin

John Boyega and Sarah Greene in Woyzeck. Photos: Manuel Harlan

THERE have been successive completions and adaptations of George Büchner’s unfinished play since his death aged 23 in 1837.

Directed by Joe Murphy, Jack Thorne’s version keeps to the story of a soldier’s descent into hallucinations, apocalyptic visions and, ultimately, tragedy, with John Boyega in the leading role.

The Star Wars: The Force Awakens star brings not just a big name, but physical and emotional presence to the role of low-ranking soldier stationed in Berlin before the fall of the Wall.

There’s much to enjoy in this adaptation of Büchner’s basic narrative, not least Ben Batt’s vigorous portrayal of fellow squaddie, Andrews.

But while it is undoubtedly contemporary and accessible, some of the dramatic moments don’t quite get enough air, relying heavily on music and lighting rather than trust the audience to recognise their meaning and significance.

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