Sunday, June 27, 2021

604. WOYZECK. (2 Productions) From my (unpublished) ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE NEW YORK STAGE, 1970-1975

Kenneth V. Lowry, Juliene Marshall, Curt Karibalis. 

WOYZECK [Dramatic Revival] A: Georg Büchner; TR: Henry I. Schmidt; D: Robert Weinstein; S: Bob Olson; C: Daniel Michaelson; L: Jon Brittain; P: Robert Weinstein i/a/w Two Arts Playhouse; T: Fortune Theatre (OB); 5/25/71-5/30/71 (8)

German playwright Büchner’s 1836 proto-expressionist drama was given an unimaginative, poorly conceived staging by a young acting company, the Actors’ Group. Mel Gussow commented that “Almost everything is too representational—and dispassionate” for so highly charged a work. Further, “the acting lacks conviction and penetration.” Martin Washburn concurred: “the many scenes . . . hung in floppy disassociation” and the cast seemed unconnected to the play.”

This was the play’s first English presentation. A German one had been shown in 1966. More would bcome in the following years, including the following German example. Cast members were Curt Karibalis, Kenneth W. Lowry, Julienne Marshall, and Dorin McGough.

Wolfgang Reinbacher, Dieter Brammer. (Photo: Hilde Zemann.)


D: Hans Joachim Heyse; S/C: Christian Bussman; M: Dieter Shönbach; P: Goethe Institute of Munich and the Gert von Gontard Foundation; T: Barbizon-Plaza Theatre (OB); 12/5/72-12/10/72 (7)

Die Brūcke (The Bridge), a traveling German troupe that appeared periodically in New York in the late 60s and early 70s, offered this revival in the play’s native language. A.H. Weiler thought the production “fairly cheerless” in its depiction of Büchner’s unfinished tragicomedy. He was, however, held by its “spellbinding” effect.

Wolfgang Reinbacher’s much-put-upon Woyzeck was “not so much a fool as a simple man confused and misused by the people around him.” There were strong performances by Dieter Brammer as the Captain and Gerhard Friedrich as the Doctor. The “workmanlike” production’s setting was simple, and changed for each of the 26 scenes by the actors themselves.

Do you enjoy Theatre’s Leiter Side? As you may know, since New York’s theatres were forced into hibernation by Covid-19, this blog has provided daily posts on the hundreds of shows that opened in the city, Off and on Broadway, between 1970 and 1975. These have been drawn from an unpublished manuscript that would have been part of my multivolume Encyclopedia of the New York Stage series, which covers every show, of every type, from 1920 through 1950. Unfortunately, the publisher, Greenwood Press, decided it was too expensive to continue the project beyond 1950.

Before I began offering these 1970-1975 entries, however, Theatre’s Leiter Side posted over 1,600 of my actual reviews for shows from 2012 through 2020. The first two years of that experience were published in separate volumes for 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 (the latter split into two volumes). The 2012-2013 edition also includes a memoir in which I describe how, when I was 72, I used the opportunity of suddenly being granted free access to every New York show to begin writing reviews of everything I saw. Interested readers can find these collections on by clicking here. 

Next up: The Year of the Dragon.