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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

Theatre: Under the Blue Sky

Tuesday evening I wasn't sure I was in the mood to see a play in the West End, but the West End Whingers had organised a group outing to see Under the Blue Sky ages ago, so there I was. The play had quite a few good things going for it and that was before I even knew what it was about: it had a late start, and it was around 90 minutes without interval. The fact that it had a great cast (including Catherine Tate), was just a bonus.

Sitting so close in the stalls with a raised set, it struck me that we couldn't see the actors below their knees. For the first two acts I became preoccupied by wondering about feet. It probably didn't help that we all knew Catherine Tate had a nasty sprain last week which cancelled the first preview, so we were all wondering how she would fare... The other thing about sitting so close was that throughout the first act there was the lovely smell of onions, peppers and minced beef cooking and wafting into the audience... As the scene ended and the kitchen set moved to one side, a few of us in the audience watched it like hungry dogs until it disappeared. Reality can be so distracting...

As for the play about the six teachers exploring love and lust outside the classroom, I thought it was terrific. Maybe it helps knowing a few teachers as then you realise they are such filthy whores (well the fun ones are anyway) who spend half their year on holidays so it all rings true. It's a fun play and while a bit tragic and creepy at times, it is the perfect sort of show for the summer... If you can get past the absence of feet (assuming you are in the stalls). Oh and in the final act Francesca Annis wears a rather flimsy dress and the lighting creates a rather intimate effect that will have you getting flashback's to Polanski's Macbeth...

I'm sure they are hoping on the Catherine Tate effect to bring in the punters to this show, and she does come up with the goods (of being Catherine Tate), but for me the final scene with Annis and Nigel Lindsay was my favourite and it wrapped things up rather nicely. There is even a bit of Neil Sedaka thrown in too which surely has to be a good thing... It runs through to September.

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