The Caucasian Chalk Circle

Written by Bertolt Brecht (Translated by Frank McGuinness)
Directed by Sean Holmes
Liverpool Everyman (6th-10th February 2007)

Reviewed by Colin Serjent

This is a bizarre but highly enjoyable version of Bertolt Brecht's classic play by Frank McGuinness, in collaboration with the Filter Theatre Company.

A mainly teenage audience at the Everyman (because it is on a literature course curriculum?) saw director Sean Holmes’s unusual and provocative way of presenting this play, in keeping with Brecht's renowned penchant for challenging orthodox methods of stage presentation.

For instance, Holmes placed the sound technicians on the stage, the actors changed costumes in full view of the crowd, actors wandered around the edge of the stage although not directly involved in the action taking place, and the narrator - in the form of The Singer (Leo Chadburn) - popped up almost at random, delivering a deep bass tone voice, which reminded me of Scott Walker.

The structure of the play was sometimes difficult to follow - the term ‘disjointed’ springs to mind - but this unpredictability was part of the enjoyment in watching it.

One of the high spots came during the opening ten minutes or so of the second act, when the dishevelled and drunken Adzak (Nicholas Tennant), wine bottle in hand, gave a rant about mankind and how pathetic human beings can be. What he says he truly feels. It was highly amusing!

Adzak was later elected as a court judge - don't ask me how - presiding over the case of two women caught up in a civil war: governor's wife Natella, (Thusitha Jayasundera) and servant maid Grusha (Cath Whitefield), who both claimed custody of a baby.

He decides to resolve this question by using an ancient tradition - the drawing of a chalk circle - to decide who is the rightful mother of the little boy.

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Comment left by Brian Whitefield on 14th February, 2007 at 18:29
This review is just like a modern account of a football game, full of chat and nothing about the meat of the matter - the performance.

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