May 1, 1981
For the concluding production of the academic year, the drama department presented a double bill, Noel Coward’s Fumed Oak (1935), directed by Professor William Rothwell, and Georg Büchner’s Woyzeck (1913) under the direction of his senior colleague Professor Evert Sprinchorn. "The drama department," wrote Elizabeth Blye '84 in The Miscellany News, "certainly knows how to leave you wanting more. They have chosen to end this season with an evening of two, short, totally opposite plays.... They make up one of the most satisfying and intense theatrical experiences to be seen." Blye had particular praise for Armiger Jagoe III '82 and Tracy Hannigan '81 as Henry and Doris Gow, the corrosive couple in what Coward called his "unpleasant comedy in two scenes"—roles originally played by the playwright and Gertrude Lawrence—and for the "dynamic and moving" portrayal by Rees Pugh '83 of Franz Woyzeck, "an army private who is constantly being humiliated by everyone," in Büchner's 28-scene "fragmentary play." "Under the direction of Evert Sprinchorn," she noted, "it flows smoothly, building on Woyzeck's inner and outer conflicts until they inevitably explode with terrifying results. The multiple scene shifts fade in and out, in contrast to the harshness of the events occuring in them... The emotional impact of Woyzeck left me breathless and shaken. It is a powerful and disturbing play. Together with Fumed Oak, a fulfilling and intense end to the drama season."
Coward’s short play was one of ten that comprised Tonight at 8:30, a cycle performed across three evenings, and Büchner’s work, left unfinished at his death in 1837, was reworked and “finished” by Karl Emil Franzos, who published his version in 1879. The play was first performed in Munich in 1913.