The Good Soldier Schweik

Sept 30th, 2017

Review by Shayli Robinson – Showbill.ca Staff Writer

Coming from Theatre Inconnu, The Good Soldier Schweik is a theatrical adaptation by Michael John Nimchuk of the darkly satirical novel published by Jaroslav Hašek nearly one hundred years ago. The story follows Joseph Schweik as he stumbles through service in the Austro-Hungarian Army and encounters with the Catholic Church during the First World War.

In theory, it’s a good piece of theatre. There’s a humorous plot with zealous characters (Schweik himself is designed to be so ridiculous that you can’t definitely decide if he’s brilliant or a moron) who provide commentary on war and religion that is still relatable after so long. Onstage, however, it is not. There’s a distracting lack of stylistic consistency and a visible disparity of skill amongst the piece’s six actors.

As the story takes place in Austria-Hungary, most of the actors decided to give their characters accents and while some sounded authentic, others sounded like they had wandered south into the Austrian empire from Ireland or Scotland; meanwhile, some of the characters had no accent at all.  The plot weaves together scenes that don’t always have a clear connection to each other or a purpose that makes sense unless you are familiar with the book.

The redeeming qualities of the show are the many genuinely funny moments and lines, the realistic impressions and expert-level face and body expressions most of the actors portrayed, and, if you’re into it, multiple occasions of people portraying dogs frighteningly well in what appear to be bondage collars and leashes.

The Bottom Line:

All in all, The Good Soldier Schweik is noble in its intent but poor in its execution. The commentary eventually rings true after you piece together what is happening and there are never-ending opportunities to laugh it out. Much like in the army, we see a wide range of ability and costly missteps. And if you’re sitting in a front row aisle seat, you could luck out and have your lap become the seat of one of the women in the show with her big, fake breasts in your face – a truly Eastern European experience.

 

The Good Soldier Schweik

By Michael John Nimchuk

Directed by Don Keith

Theare Inconnu

Showtimes:

Preview: Sept 26 @ 8pm
8pm shows:  Sept 27, 28, 30, Oct 3, 5, 6, 7, 11, 12, 13, 14
2pm show:  Sept 30, Oct 7, 14

Noble in its intent but poor in its execution
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