by Liz Richards · August 21, 2015
Woyzeck is a notoriously slippery play by Georg Buchner. The play was unfinished at the time of Buchner’s death in 1837, and many writers and editors have attempted to finish, edit, and reorder the script since. Chop Chop Zig Zag Woyzeck makes this instability the crux of their show, as they let the audience determine the scene order each night. It’s an ambitious project; the kind I love to see in FringeNYC.
In a move reminiscent of the long-running Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind, a large scene list is attached to the back curtain, and each time an actor says “CUT” the audience yells out the title of the next scene they’d like to see. Each scene is only a few minutes long, with a few chairs for set pieces and minimal props. Unfortunately, the transitions between scenes, though short, kill any sort of momentum from scene to scene: the lights come up, another title is yelled out, the actors set the stage, the title is crossed off, the lights go down, and we’re back. The lack of a linear plotline didn’t bother me; the disrupted flow of one scene to the next made it difficult to view it as a cohesive story. Lange’s decision to experiment with form, as well as translate and adapt the script, is commendable, even if it feels a bit like an acting-school exercise at times.
Despite the formatting issues, there are some solid performances, most notably Braulio Cruz as Woyzeck. With very little tracking through from scene to scene, he becomes our center, a sort of misanthropic Tin Tin in an existential serialized comic. Kristen Busalacchi also brings a wonderfully laid-back energy to the stage, especially her turn as an enterprising knife salesperson. I’d be interested in seeing this production developed with a sharper (oops) eye for editing and structure.