Woyzeck returned to the London stage in 2017 with a new version by multi-award winning writer Jack Thorne and starring Hollywood mega star of Star Wars – The Force Awakens John Boyega. The new promised an unforgettable howl of rage as prevalent for our time as it was in Buchner’s. Directed by the up-and-coming Joe Murphy, Woyzeck is one of the main highlights in Matthew Warchus’ 2017 season at the Old Vic.
The play featured as one of the main highlights in The Old Vic’s 2016/2017 season, with Matthew Warchus as artistic director, alongside other highly anticipated productions such as Art and King Lear starring Glenda Jackson in the title role.
Many will know John Boyega from his first prominent role as Moses in the British film Attack The Block before being catapulted to worldwide superstardom by taking the lead of Finn in the 2015 film Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Despite having appeared in Six Parties at the National Theatre and Category B at the Tricycle Theatre in his younger years, Woyzeck marks Boyega’s first big return to the London stage since becoming a Hollywood star.
His return to the theatre is a step away from the blockbuster roles that many will be used to seeing Boyega in, with Woyzeck traditionally being performed as a dissection of social conditions along with an examination on complex themes such as poverty. The character of Woyzeck is dehumanised by both doctors and the military, looked down upon as having less morality by those with more wealthy and status, slowly driving Woyzeck to despair.
These themes and ideas have been updated in an original script by playwright Jack Thorne. Best known for his work on such critically acclaimed TV series as This Is England and Skins, his first film The Scouting Book For Boys, and a range of highly successful radio plays, Jack Thorne promises to bring a gripping and highly contemporary relevance to one of the most influential plays ever written, creating for our time what Buchner designed for his – an unforgettable howl of rage.
Alongside Boyega, Woyzeck stars Ben Batt (A Streetcar Named Desire) as Andrews, Nancy Carroll (The Moderate Soprano) as Maggie, Sarah Greene (Penny Dreadful) as Marie and Steffan Rhodri (This House) as Captain.
Woyzeck is a play used to being rewritten, especially as it was left unfinished by Georg Buchner before his death in 1837, before finally being performed for the first time in Munich in 1913. Since then it has become considered one of the most influential and most performed plays in all of German Theatre.
Joe Murphy directs this new production, after being awarded the 2016 directorship in residence at the Old Vic, following his previous role as the Artistic Director of the writing company Nabakov. Murphy is known for his work directing What I Learned From Johnny Bevan, which won two Fringe First Awards at Edinburgh, as well as working on the Hillary Mantel Wolf Hall series on Broadway and at the RSC.
Woyzeck is set to opened at the Old Vic in London, 6th May 2017 and ran until 24th June 2017.