Has a Kafka trend erupted across the theatres of the world? Are we awaiting a Second Koming? All this plus a musical adaptation currently take place, from New York to London (twice). Kafka adaptations of various sorts. Imaginative! Yes, it must be Kafka. [DE]
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A Captive of Human Nature
Kafka’s Monkey,’ at Baryshnikov Arts Center
by Christopher Isherwood
Movie stars like Meryl Streep and Robert De Niro are celebrated for their ability to transform into the characters they play on screen, so that their very voices seem to take on new sounds, and their bodies new shapes. But, to my knowledge, they have not ever attempted adding several inches to their arms to embody a character. That’s the unsettling achievement of the extraordinary London-based actor Kathryn Hunter — and it’s done live, folks!
No digital trickery possible.Portraying a creature stranded between a human present and a simian past in “Kafka’s Monkey,” a spellbinding solo show that opened on Thursday night at the Baryshnikov Arts Center, Ms. Hunter has so thoroughly assimilated the postures and physical tics of the “ape” her character once was that I would have sworn she had managed, through serious dedication to certain yoga poses, to stretch her arms somehow so that they hung below her knees permanently.
Project Colony, Trinity Buoy Wharf / The Trial, London
By Daisy Bowie-Sell
Project Colony * * * The Trial * * *
If one thing is currently working against both of these Kafka-inspired pieces, it’s the unseasonal British weather. Project Colony is set on a bright and warm island somewhere, some time in the Fifties. The women wear summer dresses, the men cotton shirts – in reality, of course, it’s snowing outside, and the huge warehouses where it takes place are downright chilly.
That said, by heightening your discomfort, the cold does add something extra to the piece. At the beginning, the audience is split into two, and as you perhaps watch your friends file out in silence, there’s an air of impending doom. The show draws on Kafka’s 1914 short story In the Penal Colony, about a penal colony where inmates are tortured in a terrifyingly brutal way. Thankfully though, Fourth Monkey’s production isn’t all dark, edge-of-your-seat stuff: the penal colony is more of a summer camp, albeit one with a nasty set of punishments if rules are broken.