‘What’s the hurry, Woyzeck? You rush through the world like an open razor. You’ll give someone a nasty cut.’
‘When the sun’s at noon and its like the whole world was going up in flames. That’s when a terrible voice spoke to me.’
‘The moon’s rising. Look how red it is. Like blood on iron.’
An adaptation of Georg Büchner's influential, incomplete stage play. Woyzeck is the story of a lowly soldier stationed in a provincial German town, the father of an illegitimate child by his mistress Marie. Woyzeck holds life together for his family by performing menial jobs for the Captain and taking part in medical experiments conducted by the Doctor. His mental health breaks down when he discovers Marie’s infidelity. A series of apocalyptic visions and psychotic delusions lead to murder. Based on a true story of an ex-soldier who killed his mistress in a psychotic crime of passion, the play was both the first work to root tragedy in the working classes, and the first clinically observed case of psychosis in literature.
This new working of Büchner's classic material sets the drama in 1960s London, telling the story of the doomed relationship between playwright Joe Orton and Kenneth Halliwell. As Orton’s artistic star begins to outshine that of his lover and mentor, Halliwell becomes increasingly mentally unstable. The play takes the universal themes of Woyzeck – love, jealousy, exploitation, betrayal, murder – and explores them in terms of twentieth-century depression and disenfranchisement.