Heads up: Big and Small

Let the bright one in. Blanchett sizes up the London stage

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

What are we talking about? An Australian production of a translation of German writer Botho Strauss's 1978 play Gross und Klein arrives as part of the Olympic London 2012 Festival: an episodic comedy of alienation, with an Alice in Wonderland-esque sense of the surreal.


Elevator pitch Big name – small wonder it went down well down under.


Prime movers Translated by Martin Crimp, whose previous heavyweight translations include Ionesco's Rhinoceros, Molière's The Misanthrope and a divisive version of Chekhov's The Seagull. Directed by Benedict Andrews – big in Australia, apparently.


The stars Cate Blanchett plays the main character, Lotte. Turns out the Hollywood star is also quite the theatre buff: she's joint artistic director for the well-respected Sydney Theatre Company with her husband, Andrew Upton.


The early buzz Very well received when it premiered in Sydney in September. Time Out Sydney wrote: "when played by an actor of the extraordinary emotional agility and range of Cate Blanchett, the role of Lotte dazzles as a star vehicle, reverberates in the ear as a prose poem, and touches us deeply as a meditation on the squirming position of a single human being." The Australian Telegraph gushed: "Cate Blanchett's portrayal of the alienated, lonely Lotte is something very special.

By the end of the play, she has taken you on such an extraordinary journey that you walk almost dazed from the theatre knowing it's a performance you will never forget."


Insider knowledge Originally billed as Gross und Klein, the Barbcian changed it to Big and Small... presumably even Blanchett's famous face wasn't enough to make punters sign up to what was perceived as German-language theatre.


It's great that ... the show has made it over to our shores.


It's a shame that ... while you do get three hours' worth of theatre, and the chance to have a good gawk at a celeb, the price for a reasonable view may feel prohibitive: up to £65.


Hit potential Judging by the reviews, it's a challenging, inventive play, brilliantly performed – so it deserves to be a hit. Then again, tricky German writing translated by a tricky British writer and performed by an Australian company perhaps won't be everyone's cup of tea.


The details Big and Small is at the Barbican, London EC2 (barbican.org.uk), 13 to 29 April.