Caucasian Chalk Circle @ The Jack Studio Theatre Review

The pioneer of epic theatre, a form that forces the audience to reflect on their own actions rather than to emote with the action taking place onstage, Brecht has inspired generations of theatre makers with his forward thinking mode of theatre making. There are plenty of dramaturgical texts that have been uttered as being must reads, and Caucasian Chalk Circle falls into that category. As I make my way to The Jack Studio, I wonder why I have never read, or even seen a version of the play before…

Caucasian Chalk Circle

Presented by Lazarus Theatre, Director Ricky Dukes injects the production with his signature use of the ensemble. A cacophony of characters present themselves, with one even offering theatre-goers biscuits as they take their seats. It’s this down to earth quality that cools down quite an intimidating text. The evening begins as it means to go on, it’s loud, raucous and brimming with activity. The evening’s anchor is the tale of Grusha, a young slave,  driven by her maternal instincts to protect a newborn. Although her social standing serves as a barrier to protect the child, her undeniable goodwill perseveres. Dukes fairs well in depicting the chaos around this very ordinary individual, in very extraordinary circumstances.

Caucasian Chalk Circle depicts a post war climate, and its impact on civilians. Rationing is rife and battling for land is common place. Written just before WWII’s conclusion, This work places the lives of the lower classes at the fore and presents a continual sense of unrest successfully holding up a mirror to our modern age. The evening works on two planes, there’s a sense of events that are being presented to us having already happened and that they are old ideas, but as the piece isn’t set in a specific time period, could easily serve as a dystopian tale of the future. This cyclical vibe makes the production an exciting one to watch.

Sorcha Corcoran‘s stage design compliments the choice to have the performance in the round, another Lazarus signature that always intrigues. A wooden table becomes the centre piece for the evening, with the ensemble standing and circling it. The ensemble drag their possessions and set pieces around it further beautifully adding to the evening’s chaos. What is prevalent through out the show is the power of the ensemble, the cast multi-role depicting a range of faces. This however does cause confusion for myself, however could validate the idea of all of these interactions being a blur, placing a spotlight on the significance of the female protagonist’s heroism. 3.5/5

Review written by Lucy Basaba.

Caucasian Chalk Circle is currently showing at the Jack Studio until Saturday 12th March. For more information on the production, visit here…

 

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