Theatre Review: The Tin Drum, Everyman Theatre, Liverpool

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Image Source: Everyman
Theatre (Photograph by
Steve Tanner)

Written By: Scott Gunnion

Format: Play
Genre: Musical
Date: October 3 2017
Location: Everyman Theatre, Liverpool

Based on a 1959 novel by Gunter Grass and 1979 Academy Award-winning foreign language film of the same name, Kneehigh’s The Tin Drum is nothing short of immensely impressive.

The Tin Drum follows Oskar, the rather obnoxious offspring of a greengrocer in the WWII era who, repelled by his predetermined fate to wind up a greengrocer like his alleged father, resolves never to grow old. He prefers to remain in his perpetual infancy, thinking himself to be superior to the adults around him.

Oskar, inflicted with delusions and pretentious of grandeur, makes his presence felt by banging his tin drum, the sound of which can shatter glass. He bangs his drum against elders whom he presumes to know better than. He never shies away from making himself known. On stage, he manifests in the form of a unique puppet, operated and voice by different members of the cast.

By opting to have the protagonist played by a puppet, the producers and directors abandon the conventional in favour of the insightful and the inventive. But Oskar is as cynical as he is superior. Having different actors voice him, far from creating a jumbled mess, illuminated the character as an omnipresent presence. The score is raucous – a sublime mesh of 80s electro. It may have deviated from the play’s setting, but it was incredibly infectious in doing so.

And nobody could have begrudged how well the music fit the setting: Nazis with a 1980s twang. The far right from left field. This was a well-conceived adaptation of a difficult subject matter, brought to life by a tight-knit, at times androgynous cast. The direction was simply exceptional. And the whole thing was expertly delivered, and entirely in song.

Overall Rating: 9/10 – Outstanding