written a darkly comic modern adaptation of Kafka's The Trial, and the
result has a lot more laughs than Kafka, though a lot less of what we
think of as essentially Kafkaesque.
purists, then, the play is best enjoyed as an original and independent
work borrowing only the basic plot situation from The Trial.
As in Kafka, Joseph K - here a mid-management type in a bank - is visited out of nowhere by two men who announce that he is under arrest for some unnamed crime, though free to carry on with his life as best he can. Unlike in Kafka, the men are bumblers who have eaten part of his delivery sushi and are actually moonlighting from day jobs at the bank.
Joseph then sets
off on the triple quest of finding out just what he has been arrested
for, establishing a defence against the shadowy charges, and coping
with the byproducts of arrest, such as having his phone cut off, his
bicycle locked up and all the points disappearing from his Boots bonus
brings him in
contact, in what amount to a string of comic sketches, with various
sorts of 'It's nothing to do with me, mate' bureaucrats, a thieving and
inactive lawyer, an ambitious rival, a love-starved intern and a window
installer who claims inside knowledge of court proceedings.
is of comic frustration rather than Kafka's nightmare of hopelessness,
which is frequently laugh-out-loud funny, but which makes the sudden
return to Kafka's stark ending come out of nowhere and clash with both
the tone and the psychology of the characters up to then.
Joseph K with the mild annoyance of a reasonable man who can't quite
believe how unhelpful everyone else is, and Tom Basden, Sian Brooke and
Tim Key play Everyone Else in a string of quick-change comic turns.
Turner doesn't quite catch the spinning-out-of-control farcical speed
the play feels like it wants, and can't bridge the abrupt gap in tone
at the end.
Return to Theatreguide.London home page.