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