Wittenberg

10 Jan

Wittenberg has all the ingredients for a good night out –  allusions to Elizabethan and Jacobean theatre, a scholarly awareness of the German Sturm und Drang movement, all topped off with in depth references to sixteenth century theological debate!

No, seriously, it’s all very accessible. And, yes, it’s terrific fun.

Hamlet is at uni, and his two tutors, John Faustus and Martin Luther, battle for his soul. The mixing of characters derived from both fiction and fact is a sure signal that we’re in for some wackiness.

It’s a game of intellectual tennis with some top class verbal athletes shooting sharp, hilarious volleys back and forth across the net. (Admittedly, it’s a rather loose net. The play is built on what I feel is a false, or at least exaggerated, dichotomy; that between faith and reason. In this way, it’s very much an American play, part of that nation’s culture wars between the Right and the Left. But I’m far from suggesting it’s parochial. Much of the discourse about spiritual experience in the West has long been skewed towards epistemology – by the extraordinary success of the Scientific Revolution.)

David Woodland; photo by Katy Green Loughrey

David Woodland; photo by Katy Green Loughrey

It’s a very watchable game, even if one player is given a tennis racquet and the other only a ping pong bat. The play clearly favours Faustus. He’s presented as the voice of reason and skepticism. David Woodland does a wonderful job of bringing this likable and passionate rogue alive. And Nick Curnow does well to make Luther a marvelously enjoyable prig.

Director Richard Hilliar has elicited fine performances from the whole cast, and writer David Davalos’ brilliant language is a joy to hear.

Articulate, erudite, and a damn good night!

(Though you don’t, in the foyer, want to meet a bore like me,                               who’ll bang on about the privileging of epistemology!)

Veronica Kaye

Wittenberg by David Davalos

at The Old Fitzroy til 25 Jan

http://www.sitco.net.au/

 

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