The Caucasian Chalk Circle

Blackeyed Theatre’s production of Bertolt Brecht’s The Caucasian Chalk Circle offers a powerful reminder of the new spirit that swept through theatre in the wake of the Second World War.

It also shows that nothing much changes in a world driven by an insatiable greed for money, power and revenge.

Using Frank McGuinness’s celebrated translation, Brecht’s most famous play is a brilliant mixture of physical performance, live music and simple but evocative design.

Set amid a land-dispute between Soviet peasants at the end of the war, it takes the form of a play within a play. It’s excellent five-strong cast tell a story - a parable - of a servant girl who sacrifices everything to protect and nurture a baby abandoned by its wealthy but viciously crazed mother during a civil war.

Although initially the biological mother is more concerned with salvaging her fancy frocks (and saving her neck), when war ends she returns to claim back the child. Justice - portrayed as a drunken charade -  prevails after a Judgement of Solomon style test involving a chalk circle.

With great use of set, sound, masks and projected images of present day politicians, thugs and racists just about every Brechtian device imaginable is thrown into the arena. The baby for instance is a violin. It could have been a dreadful mish-mash but it emerges triumphant.

*The Caucasian Chalk Circle plays Lighthouse at Poole until Wednesday March 2. 

© Jeremy Miles 2022