Wozzeck as puppet theatre

Wozzeck is a tricky piece for a director.  There seem to be two possible approaches.  One can find a character for Wozzeck himself that resonates with contemporary audiences and treat the piece more or less realistically.  That’s the approach taken by both Bieito and Tcherniakov.  Alternatively one can run with the overtly expressionist aspects of the piece and present it in a more abstract way as Peter Mussbach did.  Andreas Homoki’s 2015 Zürich production takes the second route.  The piece is presented as if the characters are puppets in a puppet theatre in a sort of ultra-grim version of Punch and Judy.  It’s visually quite arresting and there are some very well composed scenes.  To give just one example, immediately after Wozzeck has decapitated Marie the chorus appear as nightmarish Maries while Wozzeck sits nursing the severed head.  That said, the concept does pall and maybe hasn’t really got the legs, absent any other real directorial ideas, to carry the piece for two hours.

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