Tag Archives: Rebecca Crankshaw

The Tin Drum

★★★★

The Coronet Theatre

The Tin Drum

The Tin Drum

The Coronet Theatre

Reviewed – 25th February 2020

★★★★

 

“We watch in a state of fascinated disgust as he struts and spits, leers and cries, throws tantrums and smashes things up.”

 

Günter Grass wrote The Tin Drum in 1959. It remains one of the defining novels of the 20th Century, and Oskar, its diminutive anti-hero, one of literature’s most extraordinary creations. It is epic in scope, and a hefty undertaking for a one-man stage adaptation, but Oliver Reese’s skilful adaptation, coupled with a bravura performance by Nico Holonics, will surely ensure that this Berliner Ensemble production takes its place in German theatrical history.

Reese’s adaptation follows the famous 1979 screen version, in that it focuses on the first two thirds of the book. Oskar narrates his family history, and we watch him as he matures into an adult in Dansik/Gdansk during the tumultuous years of the Second World War. Oskar’s is a deeply disturbed and disturbing voice. He is a creature of pure will; a manipulative and destructive tyrant who, quite literally, makes people march to the beat of his own drum, having succeeded in his first monstrous act of self-creation, to will himself not to grow. In many ways Oskar is fascism made flesh. He is a grotesque. And Nico Holonics’ visceral, compelling performance meets this grotesquerie head on. We watch in a state of fascinated disgust as he struts and spits, leers and cries, throws tantrums and smashes things up. He flirts with us; our presence feeds his monomaniacal narrative, so that, in a way that reading a book can never quite accomplish, we become complicit. It is an uncomfortable evening, at times stomach-churningly so, and all the better for it. We should never be comfortable with this piece of our history. We should feel sick to our stomachs. We should squirm in our seats.

An hour and fifty minutes is a long time to be held to attention by a single performance, and Holonics doesn’t drop the ball for a single second. Ably assisted by the superb sound and lighting design (credit to Jörg Gollasch and Steffen Heinke respectively), he drives the narrative on – with Oskar’s relentless, maniacal energy – in a way that simply crushes any attempt to measure time passing. We submit. We aren’t given a choice. For the most part. This relentless drive is actually occasionally broken – when Holonics breaks the fourth wall and addresses the audience in English. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it feels frustrating; an unnecessary and distracting bit of easy comic relief which lets us off the hook and marginally diminishes the evening’s power.

Only marginally however. In these troubling times, with nationalism on the rise again in Europe, this Berliner Ensemble production serves as a gut-wrenching reminder of our capacity for destructive delusion. Performances of this power don’t come along very often. Catch it while you can.

 

Reviewed by Rebecca Crankshaw

Photography by Birgit Hupfeld

 


The Tin Drum

The Coronet Theatre until 29th February

 

Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Remember Me: Homage to Hamlet | ★★ | June 2019
The Decorative Potential Of Blazing Factories (Film) | ★★★ | June 2019
Three Italian Short Stories | ★★★★ | June 2019
Winston Vs Churchill | ★★★★★ | June 2019
Youth Without God | ★★★ | September 2019
Sweet Little Mystery – The Songs Of John Martyn | ★★★★★ | October 2019
A Letter To A Friend In Gaza | ★★★★ | November 2019
Shadows | ★★★★★ | November 2019
Bells And Spells | ★★★★★ | December 2019
Maliphantworks3 | ★★★★★ | February 2020

 

Click here to see our most recent reviews

 

4th Country

The 4th Country

★★★★★

VAULT Festival 2020

The 4th Country

The 4th Country

Crypt – The Vaults

Reviewed – 12th February 2020

★★★★★

 

“An exceptional piece of work. Ambitious in scope and powerful in achievement”

 

‘Misunderstood, neglected and under-reported, Northern Ireland is just across the water but feels a million miles away’. These are the opening words on the show information laminate in the Crypt, where this show is staged. Appropriately enough, the Crypt is the Vaults stage that feels the furthest away from the main action, reached, as it is, by walking through a large bar, leaving the building altogether, and re-entering. I wonder whether this was deliberate. It wouldn’t surprise me, as this is a meticulous piece of theatre, with an ambitious script in which every word counts.

Writer Kate Reid has grabbed Northern Ireland by the balls, and is fearless in her intent. She addresses the big issues head on – both past and present – from Bloody Sunday, to the abortion law, to the power vacuum in Stormont, but without sacrificing the intimate personal truths which make all great drama lift from the page. Her characters live and breathe, and we care what happens to them. This is in no small part down to the skill of the acting ensemble. Kate Reid acts in the show too, joined by Aoife Kennan, Cormac Ellliot and Rachel Rooney, and there is not a weak link in the chain. This is performing of the highest quality – skilled, muscular, nuanced – and transports the audience into the various worlds of the play on the flip of a coin; all the more skilful when the scenes are presented within a meta-structure which lays the show’s theatricality bare. And what a joy to watch a piece of theatre in which this meta-structure has real purpose, and so brilliantly serves the content!

Gabriella Bird’s direction is perfect in this regard and could so easily be overlooked. It too seamlessly serves the narrative, allowing the actors to move freely through the space in such a way that the audience is continually stimulated but never distracted. This takes a great deal of skill. West End practitioners take note! There was no Sound Designer listed to credit, but the subtle sound design added to the whole, as did Catja Hamilton’s unobtrusive lighting.

The 4th Country is an exceptional piece of work. Ambitious in scope and powerful in achievement. As the two women who left the Crypt in tears last night would testify.

 

Reviewed by Rebecca Crankshaw

 

VAULT Festival 2020

 

 

Click here to see all our reviews from VAULT Festival 2020