Viva la complexity – The Tin Drum at the Liverpool Everyman Theatre

Posted on 6 October 2017
By Lisa Worth
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Kneehigh Theatre present the world premiere of their new work, “The Tin Drum” (an adaption of the Gunter Grass novel), at the Everyman Theatre, Liverpool.

Kneehigh has evolved from humble origins, when Mike Shepherd (the artistic director) set it up as a community group in Cornwall. It has since established itself as one of the UK’s most exciting touring companies, and “The Tin Drum” is their first visit to Liverpool.

This is trademark Kneehigh stuff, the Keystone Cops meet Baroque darkness in all its brooding intensity, narrated through song, physical theatre and a multitude of grotesque characters.

The energy and innovation that Kneehigh bring to every piece of work is always astonishing, and the story of Oskar is no exception. He is the little boy who refuses to grow up as he protests, against the debauchery and infidelity within his family, and the disintegration of society into a fascist hell without.

The mention of puppetry often invokes a mixed response, and yet Oskar is infused with a life that is sometimes eerie, sometimes comedic, and never short of remarkable. The apparent knockabout of the first half does not prepare you for the sobering prescience of the second half, posing a hundred questions about the human condition, but not daring to answer one.

Kneehigh’s theatre is always true to the concept of ensemble work, and every member of this extraordinary cast brings their unique talent and energy to the piece. Whilst characters are clearly drawn and highly memorable, nonetheless each one morphs into “the whole”, always considered more important by Kneehigh than any “star turn”. The problem is that often, your eyes just don’t know where to settle!

For those who associate the word “stuffy” with theatre, this piece shatters that misconception into a thousand pieces. It’s a feast for the senses. Dynamic, irreverent, moving, hilarious and exhausting, the company leaves the audience with a head full of fireworks and a need for a lay down after the epic journey it takes them on.

Exciting, contemporary theatre, “The Tin Drum” is a complete and immersive experience.

Did I mention I like it? I like it a lot!

“The Tin Drum” can be seen at the Everyman until October 14th, when it transfers to the West Yorkshire Playhouse.