Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan’s adaptation of the 19th-century play ‘Woyzeck’ by George Buchner proved an interesting watch. The play centers on the portrayal of the main character Woyzeck, a military barber, as poverty turns him into a plaything for nature, science, and faith. In its portrayal of Woyzeck, the play grapples with the themes of poverty, suffering, faith, madness, sexuality, and violence (Pareles). The scene in the barracks where Woyzeck runs through his belongings and finds a document with his personal information stands out. The audience gets to know Woyzeck’s full name as Johann Franz Woyzeck, his date of birth as the feast of Annunciation, his occupation as a soldier and rifleman in the second regiment, and his age as 30 years. This scene is symbolic as it directly compares Woyzeck to Jesus Christ both standing out as universal symbols of human suffering. Woyzeck’s age at the time is similar to that of Christ at his death as well as his date of birth is similar to Christ’s day of conception. This similarity allows the audience to understand that Woyzeck was a good being but his economic position turns him into a criminal.
The play’s set design was also fascinating. The director’s use of color particularly stood out. The director’s ability to use the red color to signify passionate love/seduction and equally use it to signify violence/danger/anger/ death at the same time was fascinating. When Marie had sex with the Drum Major, the stage became lit red to signify their intimate passion for each other. When Woyzeck murdered Marie, the stage got lit red to signify her death and Woyzeck’s violence. The use of the red color in both scenes proved instrumental in setting the tone for the audience.
PARELES, JON. THEATER REVIEW; Woyzeck as a Normal Guy Who Gets Jealous. 31 October 2002. 6 May 2015.