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Witzelsucht & Moria
Published on Sunday, 10 July 2011
4

4 stars

Underground Venues - Pauper's Pit
Theatre
9 Jul, 9:15pm-10:00pm; 22-23 Jul, 10:30pm-11:15pm
Reviewed by Ian Hamilton

Witzelsucht and Moria is a one-man show written and performed by G C Morgan, featuring an eminent psychiatrist looking back on his career in the form of a lecture delivered to colleagues. He examines the nature of love – “a derangement in itself” – and the early warning to his audience, “if at any time you feel nauseous, I suggest you leave,” is ominous.

The main character is a pompous, and at times dislikeable, psychiatrist – but as he addresses members of his audience individually, it’s difficult not to be captivated and drawn into his world. He takes us through his days at a minor public school in the 50’s, his gap year and effortless academic career at Cambridge, and his subsequent employment. Along the way we briefly meet minor characters – Juan Pablo the school groundsman, Donny the effete motorbike aficionado – but the main characters are Moria, his first real love, and Witzelsucht, the beneficiary (if that is the correct term) of his last case.

The delivery is softly-spoken and dead-pan, the humour at times dry and understated rather than laugh-out-loud. Still, the small audience was appreciative, and there are some great moments, such as the cabinet in the cabinet and the account of confronting gypsy honour and mending broken bones. What really strikes is the richness of the language: Moria is an “effervescent coquette of indeterminate age”, while the narrator tells of “lubricious evenings” in his early career amongst those given to “affluence and indolence”. The descriptions are pertinent and vivid, and not a word is wasted.

As can be expected with a one-man show, the set and props are sparse (save for one or two very special effects). Now and then Morgan surprises – there is a quite unnerving little dance, an attempt at puppetry, and he performs a range of voices to depict the minor characters. Music is used to good background effect, even if it wasn’t always on cue. Without giving too much away, the mind of the psychiatrist/narrator could itself be described as unusual, and there are some gruesome details and surreal moments which are not for the faint-hearted. Nonetheless, the audience were enthralled throughout the show’s one hour duration.

The writing is of a very high standard, both in terms of understated wit and vivid description, and the detail of the 50’s through to the 70’s contains little snippets that suggest that the author was actually there at the time – however improbable this may be. One of the characters’ titles, Moria, is explained to us, but the meaning of Witzelsucht is not made overtly clear (for those without a degree in Pyschiatry or Geman, it means a tendency towards telling inappropriate jokes, which explains quite a lot).

I left feeling that I hadn’t quite understood all that I had witnessed, but the play was nonetheless hugely entertaining and thought-provoking. This was the first performance of the show outside London, and I thoroughly recommend that you see it before (or as) it reaches Edinburgh in August.

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FROM OUR ARCHIVES

These are archived reviews of shows from Buxton 2011.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to performers, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.