FRANZ KAFKA – APPARATUS
by Ross Dinwiddy.
The White Bear Theatre, 138 Kennington Park Road, London SE11 4JD to 26 January 2019.
Tues-Sat 7pm Sun 4pm.
Runs 60 mins No interval.
TICKETS: 0333 012 4963
Review: William Russell 9 January
Set in a penal colony in an un-named island this black and bleak play by Ross Dinwiddy, who also directs, was a hit on last year’s Brighton Fringe, It is a dark and bizarre look at the way authoritarian regimes can turn into the truly horrific and evil in the way they treat those who do not conform to the rules of those in power. The colony is a land that time forgot, a place out of control into which comes a traveller, there to see how things are run only to discover that the officer in charge of executions is insane, the method of killing devised by a previous governor, equally horrific.
The Officer, played by Emily Carding, is devoted to her job and the memory of the governor who set up the system which involves killing the offender with an infernal machine which etches the sentence of death on his naked body, resulting in something long and very painful indeed. Carding gets a series of long speeches to deliver and does so with power and intensity, looking – she is strikingly blond with a very butch haircut and piercing blue eyes – like a mad member of something not far removed from the Hitler Youth, an Aryan goddess.
The traveller is appalled. The prisoner, who does not speak the language of his captors, is stripped and placed on the machine, the Apparatus which the Officer worships, while the young soldier in charge of him starts to feel pity and gradually much more for him. The love that dare not speak its name is spoken in gradual strokes of fingers, clutching of hands. The outcome is predictable if you think a little, but shocking, the playing is fine – Maximus Polling rises to the speeches the Soldier eventually gets to deliver effectively, Luis Amalia suffers stoically as the stark naked victim, and Matt Hastings catches he Traveller’s ambivalence. He objects to the killing, but refuses to help the Solider or the condemned man, more than his liberalism can stomach. Kafka is never a load of laughs and it is a grim little play, but well done and thought provoking.
The Officer: Emily Carding.
The Traveller: Matt Hastings.
The Soldier: Maximus Polling.
The Condemned Man: Luis Amalia.
Director: Ross Dinwiddy.
Costume Design: Emma Harding.
Assistant Director: Will Bright.
Music: Deserts by Edgard Varese.