I'm going to preface this piece by pointing out that I saw a preview performance and given the nature of the production there may be an element of tightening up. Of course in prefacing this way I'm hinting that I had problems and I did, some may be resolved before the official opening next week, some might not but as this was the performance I paid to see, I can only write about my experience and impressions of the play as it was performed.
Georg Buchner's original play, which he started writing in the 1830s and never completed, isn't one I'm familiar with. In this version by Jack Thorne for the Old Vic, the action has moved from provincial Germany to 1980s cold war Berlin. Orphan Frank Woyzeck (Voy-tzeck) is a British soldier who is living in a cheap flat above an abattoir with his Catholic girlfriend Marie (Sarah Greene) with whom he has a baby. Money is tight - military digs are out of the equation as they aren't married - and Frank volunteers to take part in drug trial to earn extra so they can move somewhere better.
At the start we find him a gentle soul, devoted to Marie but it is a devotion that grows increasingly obsessive. He isn't much liked among his military colleagues after an incident on a previous tour in Belfast and as the play unfolds we learn more of that and his past.
One of the key problems with the play, for me, is that the moment Frank signs up for the drug trials I could see the rest of the story mapped out and it felt like it took too long to get there. Frank becomes increasingly unwell, mentally and physically and it takes its toll on his relationships. The more unstable he becomes the more he clings to Marie and the more their relationship becomes a crutch.