The Actor’s Wheel
18-20 May The Desmond Tutu Theatre; 1 June Jacksons Lane London; 2 and 3 June Rondo Theatre, Bath; 9 June Z-Arts, Manchester; 10 June The Gate Arts Centre, Cardiff; 11 June Barbican Theatre, Plymouth
Three years since my first review of The Actor’s Wheel, I have the pleasure of seeing the third year students perform ‘The Caucasian Chalk Circle’. It has been clear since they began their BA(hons) Acting degree at the University of St Mark and St John that all the acting students have talent but now audiences can see how the course has developed them as performers and theatre creators.
The Actor’s Wheel adaptation of ‘The Caucasian Chalk Circle’ was incredibly detailed. The staging concepts and use of voice leaves you wondering how they produce such interesting ideas. Every scene was carefully considered and the performance involved many intricate theatre techniques from puppets to physical theatre.
The puppets were used for the part of Michael, a child. The puppeteers handled Michael excellently. He even appeared to breathe. Grusha Vachnadze (Lisa Wordsworth) looks after the child. Even though he is not hers she holds on to Michael through the most trialling of times. The tensions were high when Grusha decided to cross a treacherous bridge while holding Michael, against the advice of others. The audience were silent and watched with bated breath. The bridge was created using actors and ropes. Grusha stood on their backs and shoulders as she tentatively made her way across. The actors stood strong and yet gave the illusion of an unstable bridge.
Throughout the performance a large portion of the story was told through singing and music. The style of music and harmonies added to the overall emotion of the piece.
The story is powerful and timely as the actors explored themes of political uprisings, power, wealth, civil war, ownership and migration. Although Brecht wrote the play in 1948, the message is incredibly relevant and powerful to today’s audience. The Actor’s Wheel have produced a truly professional performance. Flawless and captivating from start to finish.