wozzeck/woyzeck translated and adapted by Misha Aster from Alban Berg's opera and Georg Büchner's play, directed by Aster, with Jonno Roberts, Renee Salewski, Doug MacNaughton, Andrew Bunker and Thomas Neal. Presented by Theatre of Ideas at the Bathurst Street Theatre. Runs to September 15, Thursday-Saturday at 8 pm. $28, stu/srs $18. 416-870-8000. Rating: NN
it's back-to-school time at the theatre. That's clear from watching director Misha Aster's sophomoric, "gimme an A for earnestness" Wozzeck/Woyzeck, an unsuccessful combination of Alban Berg's opera and Georg Büchner's dramatic fragment about a put-upon soldier. Aster fuses characters, plays with the score and randomly mixes English and German. Transition scenes are awkwardly handled, there are huge unnecessary silences (um God's silences?), and symbols that should be subtle -- a boy alone on the stage, the moon going from white to red -- are so overstated they lose their power.
Yes, it feels like an undergraduate production. There are occasional fine details. Placing the orchestra, well directed by Paul Andres Mahr, onstage makes them a dramatic part of the show, and Doug MacNaughton as the doctor delivers as full a characterization as anything I've seen him do with the Canadian Opera Company. Renee Salewski's Marie is fine, too, although I wish Aster hadn't changed her moving lullaby into a flat, talkie scene.
There's a vagueness that blankets the show, from the title character to the costumes. And why combine the two works?