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Kafka-ish: Kafka @Finborough

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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

Opera: Der fliegende Holländer

Der fliegende Holländer (The Flying Dutchman) at the Royal Opera is an opera with a long burn. But the story comes together in the last act so quickly, with music so rousing and a production so stylish that it will almost leave you breathless.

The opera tells the tale of the captain and his ghost ship that is doomed to sail the seas forever unless its captain can find a wife once every seven years when the winds will bring him ashore. It is the seventh year and again his ship is washed to the shores of a Norwegian fishing village. The daughter of a ships captain has heard of the tale of the ghost ship and wants to save him, regardless of what her former boyfriend things. It is at times a frustrating opera as there is so little action happening and then there is so much at once. The production updates the time to a late twentieth century period when socialist aesthetics and polyester reign. It is jarring and gives rise to anachronisms about ship sails but as things progress it takes upon a beauty of its own.

Opening night's performance of this austere production included brilliant performances by Egils Silins as the Dutchman and Anja Kampe (reprising her role from the original 2009 production) as Senta. Both commanded the stage and were in fine singing voice. The opera choruses added to the excitement and were worth the price of admission alone and quickly brought things to life.

It makes sense there is no intermission but careful with the pre-show drinks. The temperature inside the theatre seemed to be designed to further evoke a Norwegian fishing village and had me rushing for the nearest mensroom once people were on their feet applauding. Or alternatively dress warmly. The short run concludes on 4 November. Seats were noticeably available on opening night...

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