Woyzeck on the Highveld by Handspring Puppet Company

This review was written for the Londonist

Roll up, roll up for beautiful, fresh corpses and a tricksy but tragic rhino; for billowing puffs of chalky black smoke and intricate shadows; for a louche accordion player and a lady puppet whose randy eyes can see through eight pairs of leather trousers.

Set in 1950s urban South Africa, Handspring’s version of ‘Woyzeck on the Highveld’ blends animation, puppetry and human action into a fragmentary riddle about the agitated mind of a man destined to commit murder.  Dark and dream-like, we found this production as confusing as it was aesthetically pleasing.   It features some beautiful scenes (and some silly walks), but felt too abstract in parts.

It’s a play that hails from good stock and one that puppetry fans will be drawn to.  It’s a collaboration between artist William Kentridge and the South African Handspring Puppet Company – the brains behind the ever popular ‘War Horse’.  The odd but educated rhinoceros in this play recalls the horse, on a tiny scale.

‘Woyzeck on the Highveld’ runs until the 10th September in the Barbican’s Silk Street Theatre and tickets cost a rather pricey £18-22.  Find out more on the Barbican website.


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