The Caucasian Chalk Circle at South Hill ParkBy Hugh Fort
January 21, 2011
In a plot that echoes EastEnders, a new play sees a mother fight to win back her baby. Hugh Fort is the daddy
A classic German play popular with A-level students comes to Bracknell next week before heading off on a country-wide tour.
The Bertolt Brecht play The Caucasian Chalk Circle, kicks off at South Hill Park on Tuesday for five performances, finishing on Saturday, January 29.
The story of the play appears bleak, but producer Adrian McDougall says the serious subject matter is interspersed with moments of high comedy and fantastic music, put together by the arts centre’s chief executive Ron McAllister.
The play tells the story of a servant girl who starts caring for an abandoned child found during a civil war in the former Soviet Union. Although she has looked after the abandoned child, she faces a court battle with the boy’s biological mother over who deserves to keep him.
The “chalk circle” itself is an ancient tradition used to solve the argument.
“While covering some fairly serious issues, The Caucasian Chalk Circle is not as bleak as it sounds,” explains director Adrian.
“It has moments of sheer comedy and some really fantastic music in the play, so it’s certainly not for adults only. We recommend it for anyone aged over 12 really.
“It’s very popular among schools and is part of the A-level syllabus.”
The play is being produced by the Bracknell-based Blackeyed Theatre group and the entire production team is from the area.
The cast of five actors, who remain on stage throughout, are from further afield.
The version the group is putting on is the most recent translation of Brecht’s German original by Irish playwright and poet Frank McGuinness.
Adrian said there had been various translations since the play was written, but this was the most recent and the most modern.
And he’s trying to modernise the stgaing. He says: “In terms of direction, we’re going for a real high-energy performance.
“The whole cast being on stage the entire time really adds to the play and the performance.”
Following the Bracknell debut, the cast will then go on a tour of the country.
“The scheduling is very tough, a 10-week tour with a lot of performances,” he says. “We can’t wait, it’s a really exciting play and everyone is full of energy [and ready] to put on some good performances.”
One of the cast, who all take on multiple roles, is Ruth Cataroche.
Her main role is Azdak, who presents an unusual challenge for the actor – the character is a man.
“It’s been tricky trying to get the voice right and things like that,” she says. “I’ve done a lot of plays playing different characters. With this we use things like masks to differentiate between the characters.”
But to find out how they mask the parents’ dilemma, you’ll have to see the show for yourself.
- Tickets are £14.50 for adults, £12.50 for members and £8.50 for under 21s. For details, call the box office on (01344) 484123.