Botho Strauss’s German play Gross und Klein, or as it is translated Big and Small, is the latest production from the Sydney Theatre Company. The play is set in West Germany and stars the delicate and stunning Cate Blanchett in the lead role as Lotte and centre’s around her struggle to find sanctuary in her society. Lotte is a very alienated character who, despite her best efforts, continues to be outcast from her culture.
For the most part I was completely lost during the production, although I could appreciate Blanchett’s incredible theatrical ability I couldn’t get into it. The first half consisted of Lotte breaking the fourth wall and then moving from one person’s room to another for no discernible reason. It took me an incredibly long time to realise the real reason for her actions. This, unfortunately, meant the magic of theatre I have become accustomed to was lost in a matter of minutes. This is not a criticism of the theatre company themselves as they were actually very good in each of their roles, it is more a reflection of the play. I imagine if I had been able to understand the hidden meaning of Botho Strauss’s work I would have felt more connected to the world he created.
The audience were introduced to each scene with a fast-paced change of set, the stage itself was simple and the addition of furniture and set pieces helped to reveal Lotte’s world. The music used between set changes were incredibly cheerful in comparison to Lotte’s struggle. In retrospect it is interesting how Lotte’s quest to understand modern society gave me an insight into our society and how similar it was to Lotte’s. It should also be noted that Cate Blanchett has an incredible voice that is used with skill and precision throughout the piece. It really showed the level of talent Blanchett holds as an actor.
Big and Small is playing at the Barbican until April 29th.
Written by Roxy Simons.