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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

Concert: Carmen Jones

Source: Carmen Jones publicity artwork http://southbankcentre.co.uk

I had been warned that Carmen Jones was a bit of a dated show. It is afterall a "modern" 1943 reworking of Bizet's opera Carmen into a musical. Given that piece of advice (and that I was still probably jet lagged) I figured the cheap seats at Royal Festival Hall would suffice to see this new production of the show. If it were a bit dull then I figured I could always have a sleep (especially during the overlong first half). Of course I forgot that the cheap seats means that you are surrounded by cheap people. In this instance it was cheap people with body odour problems, weak bladders, and noisy crisp packets. For the first half I was detracted by the cheap people around me who felt that the people's palace meant it was their living room. I was half expecting belching and farting since there was every other noise... Well that's where socialist idealism gets you in the twenty-first century...

By the second half I had moved myself to one of the empty seats closer to the stage and closer to where Fliss and Chris were sitting. They didn't want to have any part of my theatre economics so booked separately. The move it was a noticeable improvement on everything but the acoustics... While the London Philharmonic sounded fantastic, it was a bit hard to hear the dialogue and the singing and I suspect that wasn't the fault of the performers... I also had to contend with a largish glass of white wine to consume which for a lightweight such as me guaranteed that I was going to have a good time no matter what in the second half...

Anyway it turns out Carmen Jones isn't that bad of a show. This fully staged concert version with a great cast had a lot going for it (when you could hear it) and was visually pleasing from time to time as well (which is not always the case with concert productions). At times you get the feeling that Oscar Hammerstein II had more fun conceiving this Carmen than you actually get from watching it, but modern translations of operas abound nowadays. And I certainly can appreciate the fact that "dats our man, the man with the wallop, hotter than a firecracker" is a great line to be sung by a chorus...

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