by Tom Basden based on The Trial by Franz Kafka.
Gate Theatre above the The Prince Albert Pub 11 Pembridge Street W11 3HQ To 18 December 2010.
Mon-Sat 7.30pmMat Sat 3pm.
Audio-described 18 Dec 3pm.
Captioned 9 Dec.
Post-show Discussion 25 Nov, 9 Dec.
Runs 1hr 30min No interval.
TICKETS: 020 7229 0706.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 24 November.
People should tell the truth about Joseph K; it’s very good.
It was easy for the 20th-century to see Franz Kafka’s nightmare of Joseph K’s unexplained arrest in The Trial as foretelling the tyrannies that would soon infect Europe. Tom Basden’s variation on the novel, neither claiming to be a direct adaptation nor totally independent of the great Czech original, applies it to modern, apparent democracy. Oppressive authority, however fatal, now masquerades as one of us.
Pip Carter takes Joseph through a series of reactions when the sushi delivery-man he’s expecting on his 30th birthday turns out to be part of a duo come to arrest him. Arrest is a bureaucratic process, with no physical constraint. Who needs locks and chains when a person’s life can be disabled through their passport, cashcards and mobile?
And just because they’re out to get you for no known reason doesn’t mean you can’t be paranoid. Is Joseph’s bank colleague really trying to undermine him and gain promotion? Is the lawyer who clearly despises him as a client deliberately ignoring the case or merely exercising the law’s delays?
From puzzlement and humour, marks of initial confidence, Carter’s Joseph passes into a twilight world of questioning, his time and his life not his own as he seeks help. Waiting around in a customer contact centre, lawyer’s reception area and other spaces, he faces an increasing loss of control.
It’s expressed in brief scenes, and the changing shapes of apt blandness and concealment in Chloe Lamford’s set, while the cast around Joseph create a blanked-out world. Arrest arrives in grey-suited, Big Society volunteers, while the lawyer’s intern is glad to have spent years unpaid and confined to her boss’s office: it’s such an opportunity she coos, while Siân Brooke elsewhere captures the auto-cadences of a ‘customer care’ operative.
The withdrawal of personality in this world is apparent too in Tom Basden and Tim Key’s multiple characterisations. Basden especially mixes everyday normality or incomprehension with a hint of menace. For, as Lyndsey Turner’s impeccable production shows in décor, dress and demeanour, danger lies behind the banal and the everyday, and comes wrapped in layers of apparently helpful procedure.
Cast: Tom Basden, Siân Brooke, Pip Carter, Tim Key.
Director: Lyndsey Turner.
Designer: Chloe Lamford.
Lighting: Charles Balfour.
Sound: Chris Branch.
Voice coach: Martin McKellan.
Fight director: Bret Yount.
Assistant director: Stella Odunlami.