The Caucasian Chalk Circle – Review

Just… WOW!

Brecht’s play bursts onto the stage of the Lyceum; an epic musical play that suggests a cast of hundreds rather than the thirteen multi-talented actor-musicians who play more than three times that number of parts.  

As the play unfolds, it’s hard to know where to look, so much is happening, but the chaos has touchingly tender moments and is carefully orchestrated by a skilful combination of the Lyceum’s Creative Team: Mark Thomson’s direction, Karen Tennent’s stage design and the lighting of Simon Wilkinson.

The story, translated by Alistair Beaton, is that of Grusha (Amy Manson), a servant girl who rescues the governor’s baby son, Michael, from the scene of revolution and flees into the mountains to the safety of her brother’s house.  Grusha leaves her soldier-sweetheart behind to fight and encounters him again only much later, when the governor’s wife demands her son back, and Grusha finds herself pleading her case in the corrupt court of the drunken rogue, Azdak (Christopher Fairbank).  The finale is played out in a legal version of Solomon’s Judgement – placing the child in a chalk circle to see who will pull hard enough to win him.

The parallel plots of the play are held together by The Singer (Sarah Swire) who delivers wonderfully – all shades, ripped jeans and electric guitar – Claire McKenzie’s original rock-based score.  To single out any one actor is really to do an injustice to the remainder of this extraordinarily talented cast, but Manson and Fairbank are role models. And the intriguing cross-dressing parts, played for laughs with a steel core of truth, are led by Deborah Arnott’s bullying, blokeish Sergeant.

It’s a parable.  It’s a love-story.  It’s funny. It’s a damning insight into the inequalities in society, as relevant now as when Brecht wrote it in 1944. As Mark Thomson says, ”it’s a play that imagines wonderfully that there might be another way of thinking.’

**** (+)

Performances: 18 February – 14 March 2015

For more information or to book tickets, phone 0131 248 4848 or look online at   


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