Gross Und Klein (Big And Small) (Sydney Theatre Company)

Posted on January 3, 2012

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I took time out from my busy schedule of drinking, eating and laying on the beach to catch some local theatre in Sydney, Australia, with a handsome man I met in a bar. I mean, how could I resist seeing Cate Blanchett in the lead role (in a production that will come to the Barbican later this year). I do love bragging rights.

I’ve heard mixed reports of Cate Blanchett & Andrew Upton‘s stewardship of the Sydney Theatre Company over the last few years (the Australian production of the Greatest Musical Ever Written ‘Spring Awakening‘ was apparently dire) but based on this one show things seem fine to me.

“Is it a sexy show? Yes…”

So ‘Gross Und Klein‘ is an interesting, bold, German play about about a woman’s efforts to connect to the world around here in the aftermath of a break-up.

Blanchett is simply electric as Lotte. It’s a side to the actress I have never seen before. She comes across, not as her usual regal & refined self, but as a frenetic, young, crazed woman in a surreal, yet all too realistic world.

The real strength of this show is that it is not just a show-piece for Blanchett. Her performance is one cog in a larger machine that is working together with precision. Johannes Schutlz’s set design makes dramatic use of space and is more telling for it’s absences than it’s construction. Benedict Andrews (a regular STC director) keeps the action contained and tense.

While written in the 70s, the themes of social isolation work strongly still today. The constant rejections and search for human warmth are at once relatable in a production that could so easily have become heavy & impenetrable (*cough* ‘A Woman Killed With Kindness‘ *cough*).

Is it a sexy show? Yes, in the sense that Blanchett is a major draw card and it’s a piece that feels unique against the landscape of the West End over the last few years.

The transfer to the Barbican will apparently be Cate Blanchett’s first stage role in the UK (don’t quote me on that), and it’s a bold choice. I saw her ‘Hedda Gabler’ in the US and it was a role I more associate with Blanchett’s repertoire. Her Lotte will be a revelation to many.

Verdict: Go see it. If only to see one of the greatest actresses around up close & personal on the stage. 

Posted in: Play