THE TIN DRUM – Shoreditch Town Hall ★★★

In Children's theatre, London theatre, Opinion, Plays, Regional theatre, Reviews, Touring by Johnny FoxLeave a Comment

Shoreditch Town Hall, London – until 23 December 2017

The Tin Drum is the ultimate ‘Marmite’ show – anyone who’s read the 1959 Günter Grass novel will thrill to this enthusiastic and explosive production, as will devotees of Kneehigh’s deconstructive and occasionally anarchic style of ‘immediate’ theatre in a near perfect setting.

For anyone else, your heart may sink at the sight of (yet another) manipulated child puppet, albeit one who sings with longing for his own amniotic sac, and gets his umbilicus cut on stage – as the embodiment of Oskar, the illegitimate child who ‘decides’ at age 3 never to get any older.

The Tin Drum is his manipulated view of the world, seen in a longish first act mostly through the eyes of the puppet child, and in the more chaotic and dramatic second as his journey to a mental hospital.

There is no doubt that in terms of performance, music, theatrical effects and plenty to look at, Kneehigh has done a wonderful job to elevate this difficult and complex novel to the stage.  The coach party of a Year 11 German class behind me absolutely lapped it up and were agog with chatter at the interval.

If mid-century European magical realism with a sardonic side order of the rise of Nazism is your thing, you will derive much pleasure from the show.  If you’re unfamiliar with the genre – it could be a long night, although a long night of stomping choreography, dramatic events, window-shattering singing and, inspired by the tin drum itself, Charles Hazelwood’s  fantastic panoptic musical score with echoes of rock, Weimar cabaret, opera, kletzmer, waltz and troubadour ballad.

All human life is here.

until December 23

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Johnny Fox
‘Johnny Fox’ studied Theatre at Lancaster University and Journalism at City before realising there was no money in either profession and concentrating instead on interior design for investment banks in Singapore, New York and Moscow. Back home, he wrote mostly about theatre, mostly in London, for arts and events websites including Londonist and The Pink Paper. He blogged independently at www.johnnyfox.london. He passed away, after a long battle with cancer, in May 2020.

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Johnny Fox on FacebookJohnny Fox on RssJohnny Fox on Twitter
Johnny Fox
‘Johnny Fox’ studied Theatre at Lancaster University and Journalism at City before realising there was no money in either profession and concentrating instead on interior design for investment banks in Singapore, New York and Moscow. Back home, he wrote mostly about theatre, mostly in London, for arts and events websites including Londonist and The Pink Paper. He blogged independently at www.johnnyfox.london. He passed away, after a long battle with cancer, in May 2020.

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