From the same creative team which amazed Liverpool audiences with the acclaimed ‘Dead Dog in a Suitcase (and Other Love Songs)’ comes a fresh adaptation of Gunter Grass’s classic 1959 novel, ‘The Tin Drum’.
Part-opera, part-musical and part-epic poem; Kneehigh’s retelling of Grass’s surreal tale of Oskar Matzerath, the boy who decides never to grow up, crashes and bashes along at a breathless pace accompanied by a moreish electro-industrial soundtrack penned by Charles Hazlewood and performed live by a trio of virtuoso musicians.
Disgusted with the adult world, Oskar, who is played by a puppet masterfully brought to life by Sarah Wright, decides to throw himself down a set of stairs – freezing his body in its three-year-old state.
Born in the Free City of Danzig in the years preceding World War Two, Oskar is also the owner of the aforementioned tin drum and possessor of a piercing scream so powerful it can smash glass.
Despite its dark themes which include the rise of the far right, the displacement of people and racism, writer Carl Grose’s revision retains plenty of humour and offers some genuinely laugh out loud moments of slapstick.
The passage where Oskar’s father Alfred (Les Bubb) chases Oskar’s mother Agnes (Nandi Bhebhe) franticly around the stage with his trousers around his ankles is a particularly humorous highlight.
Meanwhile Rina Fatania’s riotous turn as babushka Anna Bronski was another standout performance which offered expertly timed comic relief as the characters are forced to deal with the rise of a tyrannical fascist dictator.
The show lurches from moments of absurd comedy and witty interplay to scenes of ferocious action including the brilliantly choreographed siege of Danzig’s Polish Post Office.
The Tin Drum, sadly maybe, feels all too at home here in our troubled present but Oskar’s refusal to accept his lot and the folly of his elders offers hope of a brighter future and is perhaps a lesson to us all.
The Tin Drum is at the Everyman until 14 October
Photos: Steve Tanner / Kneehigh