Review: The Tin drum at West Yorkshire Playhouse

Press night and the foyer fills with student buses in from the suburbs to view the Kneehigh production of The Tin Drum, just transferred from the Everyman Theatre, Liverpool.

A morality play mimicking our times written by Gunter Grass in 1959, this classic tale centres on Oscar Matzerath who is born into a dangerously changing world. He promises to himself to stop growing in fear of being a part of the adult world at that time drumming to his own beat, hence the drum of the title.

The Tin Drum. Photo: Steve Tanner

The scene is set in a warehouse in Danzig (Gdansk), big dirty frosted windows curbing any natural light. The stage is dimly lit with chandelier standard lamp and similar wall lights the only other lighting. The band are part of the scene and dress accordingly. Costumes are workaday 1930 casual with capes, caps and glasses used cleverly in addition to denote when actors are playing other characters.

A staircase leads up to the first floor. The staircase is made good use of in a chase scene telling the back-story of Oscar’s conception to birth. It is part rock opera/punk poetry part parable on the state of the world around him on which he is forced to react.

Puppetry plays a significant part of the storytelling whether it is paper cut-outs to stand in for a crowd or live-hand puppets for Oscar. Puppeteers mingle with the actors in the majority of scenes. All but the main characters take on multi roles. Most notable is the interpretation of Nanna Bronski by Rina Fatania, a foul mouthed Polski.

Other members make the character their own in terms of Alfred Matzerath, Oscars father; Les Bubb who is oblivious to what is going on around him leading to his involvement with the Nazi party; Patrycjia Kujawska, among other roles as the leader in rock godlike silhouette and dry ice, with ingenious use of props throughout.

Passing of the mics make an impression too as the play is poetic in its nature. If you have a nervous disposition to loud noises prepare yourself for an interpretation to set yourself thinking. Apart from the puppetry lighting is key in the interpretation.

The Tin Drum runs at West Yorkshire Playhouse until Saturday 28 October 2017. Tickets: £13.50-£31 Box Office: (0113) 213 7700 or book online. Captioned performance: Tuesday 24 October 7.30; audio-described performance: Saturday 28 October 2pm


This review was written by Peter Snushall as part of our South Leeds Goes To The Playhouse project where readers receive free tickets in return for a review article.