THEATRE REVIEW: The Tin Drum ★★★★

The Tin Drum
Bristol Old Vic
Saturday 11th November 2017

From the same creative team behind Dead Dog in a Suitcase (and other love songs), Kneehigh’s latest production with Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse and West Yorkshire Playhouse is Günter Grass's novel The Tin Drum, and you can really feel this extent when you can see just how powerful and gripping The Tin Drum is on stage. Now I haven't read the 500 page epic, but I felt absolutely engrossed into the action on stage, and in good ol’ fashion Kneehigh style, this production was full of songs that will be left lingering in your mind for a long time following this spectacle.

The story of The Tin Drum seems very simplistic and easy to follow, so you'd think that you'd be able to sit back and enjoy this production, but you'd be wrong as at times I was on the edge of my seat; Oskar, who at the age of 3 receives a tin drum for his birthday, was elegantly puppeteered by Sarah Wright whilst being given a voice courtesy of performers Dom Coyote and Bettrys Jones. Though just a small 2 foot tall puppet, you are drawn to the character whenever he's present on stage with thanks to a beautiful design from Lyndie Wright, who captures so much emotion and characteristics within such an important element to the story. Coyote and Jones give Oskar such charisma with a cynical attitude as he finds that his drumming grants him a certain power over even the most formidable minds.

Like mentioned above, music is very prominent and plays a vital role in this production; along with a gorgeous lighting design from Malcolm Rippeth which gives the production a damp, drivel light atmosphere, the music that is mixed within this at times really sent a chill down my spine. These are the moments that really took me back to the adrenaline that I got from Dead Dog in a Suitcase, especially with a similar crescendo of hell at the climax of the production, which used a similar contraption in the former production.

The way that some familiar faces have returned for Tin Drum to play similar characters is a real treat to see on stage, for instance Rina Fatania who gives a powerful and equally hilarious portrayal of Anna Bronski. Nandi Bhebhe, who I last saw in Kneehigh’s 946, gives so much energy and commitment to Agnes Bronski that it really shines through as it's intertwined with the chemistry from Damon Daunno’s Jan Bronski and Les Bubb's Alfred Matzerath to become a real highlight.

Overall, The Tin Drum is a powerful and equally compelling piece of theatre on stage with such thought into every detail, right down to thr paper feel programme that it's concealed in a paper bag, it's a production like no other from one of the country's greatest theatre companies. I have seen seven of Kneehigh's productions now including Tin Drum, and they are only getting better as each new one is being produced - this is a production not to be missed!


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