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Kafka-ish: Kafka @Finborough

In offering proof that Kafka is everything to everyone - writer-performer Jack Klaff plays various roles, including the man himself in what is a part tour, part immersion and part legend of Franz Kafka. He is a writer who achieved fame after his life was cut short due to succumbing to tuberculosis at the age of forty. He is probably better known for his reputation and the Kafkaesque style attributed to his writing than his life. But after this piece, you’re left curious to learn more about the man and his works. And that has to be the best theatrical tribute you could give a writer, even for a writer who stipulated that his works be destroyed upon his death. It’s currently playing at the Finborough Theatre . Franz Kafka was born in Prague in 1883. In 1901, he was admitted to a university and began studying law. While studying, he met Max Brod, who would become his best friend and eventual literary executor. Brod would posthumously publish many of his works and writings. Kafka’s life co
Musical: Mary Poppins - supercalisassystarturn

The opportunity came up to see Mary Poppins The Musical Friday night so I took it. Now that Billy Elliot has opened it will lose some of its "must see" status no doubt, but it is a very classy show (well, classy for something that is part music hall, part panto and part dance musical) using some of the best talent in the UK. Of note:
  • This was a dark and sassy Mary Poppins. Laura Michelle Kelly as the lead was quite sinister dispensing with a nasty nanny, and also siccing the children's toys on them when they annoyed her. The latter must have led to the warning against bringing very young children to the theatre, but for a show that clocks up three hours, there should be another warning that only children on Ritalin would last that long without getting bored.
  • Kelly's performance however is great and it is easy to see how people are finally seeing her as the next big thing. When she isn't on the stage however, it isn't as much fun, the character of the parents are just annoying, and the cook and the servant are meant to provide the comic relief but strain to do so.
  • The show is not a duplication of the movie as it also goes back to the original stories of PJ Travers. Apart from making the story a lot darker (and at times less coherent) it enables things such as the animated sequences in the park being replaced by dancing statues.
  • New songs have been written and the old ones have been adapted (and lyrics completely replaced). This makes for a much better musical story, although alas "Sister Suffragette" (among others) gets cut...
  • No musical nowadays is complete without one cast member flying off into the wings. This time, there was a half-baked excuse since Mary is supposed to fly, and so she did... Three times. Each time the audience applauded, and loudest the last time as she flew over some of the audience in the stalls as she left Cherry Tree Lane for good. Nothing like an actor suspended by cables to get the punters excited. They do it in Billy Elliot too (for some reason).
  • The other big event is in the second act number "Step in Time" when Gavin Lee tapdances upside down on the proscenium. Tap dancing upside down is probably something that won't catch on as much as flying about the stage, but it fitted with the story and again got the punters awfully excited.
After a while it is easy to get jaded with all these theatrical tricks and quality shows... But for £50 you get your money's worth of thrills in this show. Now if future revisions trim it a little here and there it will be even better... It no doubt has a long future ahead of it...

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