Don’t miss Star Wars ac­tor John Boyega in a Cold War drama, says Sarah Riches

Where London - - Contents -

Star Wars ac­tor John Boyega takes on a play about the Cold War at The Old Vic theatre.

John Boyega has come a long way since play­ing a gang leader in At­tack­theBlock, a low-bud­get Bri­tish film that saw him save the streets of Brix­ton, south Lon­don,

from an alien at­tack. In 2015 he starred in a film that most ac­tors would break a leg for: Star Wars: The Force Awak­ens. But while Boyega could walk into any role, he is star­ring in

Woyzeck (from 13 May) at The Old Vic. A new ver­sion of the play, which was left un­fin­ished after the death of its orig­i­nal au­thor, is be­ing res­ur­rected. The struc­ture and end­ing of Woyzeck has been open to in­ter­pre­ta­tion ever since the death of Ge­org Büch­ner, who wrote the tragedy in 1836.

This ver­sion is a world pre­miere directed by Joe Mur­phy and writ­ten by Jack Thorne – who’s worked on the West End’s Harry Pot­ter and the Cursed Child and TV’s Skins and Shame­less.

It’s 1980s Ber­lin. The Cold War rages and the world is torn be­tween cap­i­tal­ism and com­mu­nism. On the bor­der be­tween East and West, young sol­dier Woyzeck and his lover are des­per­ately try­ing to es­cape poverty to build a bet­ter fu­ture for their child.

Based on a true story, the play deals with themes of class hi­er­ar­chy, op­pres­sion of the poor and jeal­ousy, in a tale about the peo­ple so­ci­ety leaves be­hind and the tragic con­se­quences this has.

Woyzeck agrees to take part in med­i­cal ex­per­i­ments to earn more money. But when he suf­fers from apoc­a­lyp­tic vi­sions and hears voices, his doc­tor treats him like a specimen to be stud­ied rather than as a per­son to care for.

Mocked by his mid­dle-class mil­i­tary su­pe­ri­ors, Woyzeck’s men­tal health de­te­ri­o­rates and the mother of his child, Marie (Sarah Greene), with­draws from him.

Over the years, the play has taken the form of an opera and var­i­ous films, each with a dif­fer­ent end­ing – so even if you’ve seen it be­fore, you’ll be kept guess­ing. For full list­ing, turn to p. 52

Clock­wise from top left: The Old Vic; in­side The Old Vic; John Boyega in Woyzeck

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