The Legend of the Holy Drinker has been adapted from the book of the same name by Joseph Roth written in 1939. Where it tells the story of Andreas a homeless drunk who discovers he is now an illegal immigrant who has served time in prison. His luck changes when he meets a businessman on a bridge in London who gives him £1000, as seen in the photo below.
His good fortune continues for the final three weeks of his life where he finds further fortunes, reunites with old friends, girlfriend and enjoys some of the happiness he has been missing for a long time.
For each of the Hunch Theatre productions that I have now been to see the stage is dressed with minimal props. Although the ones they use are very effective. The large piece of frosted plastic that covers the vast section of the stage can be viewed in the photograph below. It serves various purposes throughout the play. From the cover used over Andreas at the start of the play to being used for bed covers in a later scene where Andreas is in bed with his ex-girlfriend.
Andreas isn’t a horrible character. The way in which he has been portrayed takes a sympathetic look at his circumstances and even though he has broken the law he isn’t a threat to the outside world. He was driven to crime by jealousy and rage for the love of a woman which brought him into the life he now leads.
Four out of the five cast members dressed in black-tailed coats with black trousers as they first walk down onto the stage at the beginning of the production it gave the impression of undertakers coming to collect a body and taking him off to the mortuary. Setting the scene as you watch you watch the sad tale unfold. Sadly this story is a harsh reality for many people living on the streets.
The microphone is used an awful lot through this production. It’s used to emphasise emotions as the cast move further away or closer to the microphone depending on what effect they require. It appears to be a very simple technique but to be able to master using a microphone so effectively takes an awful lot of skill and talent.
Hunch Theatres talent for taking a lesser-known foreign book and translating it into English for a new generation of theatregoers is highly commendable. The storyline is clear and despite the story being over 80 years old, the subject matter is still very much present in our society today.
For more information on this production and Hunch Theatre company follow the links below.
Photo credit Greg Goodale
The Legend of the Holy Drinker