The Coral ★★★ Finborough Theatre | October 4 - 29, 2022


Georg Kaiser was a leading member of the German Expressionist movement, and he wrote more than fifty plays. The issues he deals with in The Coral are as relevant today as they were when he penned the work in 1917: dehumanising industrialisation, the gathering of wealth into the hands of a few and the desperate reality of income inequality. However, while Kaiser's social concerns remain relevant, his expressionist format for expressing them can seem dated. While Kaiser never really attempts to create realistic characters, he displays considerable psychological insight as he points how the abused can become the abuser and how abuse can cause one to become dissociated from oneself. Still, Kaiser's allegorical figures may not work for a contemporary sensibility. The highly stylised nature of the Expressionist drama can actually distance the audience from the message. That said, the cast of this production do a fine job of conveying the spirit and tone of Kaiser's work. Of particular note were Stuart Laing as the Millionaire who manages the transition from ruthless capitalist to repentant convict with considerable finesse, and Esme Scarborough who proved to be completely convincing in her various personae. This is a work that might prove to be of more interest to students of theatre than a general audience, but the subjects Kaiser grapples with are as current as today's news.

Rated: ★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Photo by Marshall Stay.

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