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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

La vie en rose: Dead Royal @Ovalhouse

Charbonnel et Walker pink champagne truffle boxes are piled up in an apartment. A video is hooked up playing Gone With The Wind. I’ve Seen That Face Before is playing in the background. And then Chris Ioan Roberts as Wallis Simpson vomits pink muck all over blue and white floor.

Is it an aversion to seafood that she does not want to admit for fear of being considered too common? Or was it too many Charbonnel et Walker truffles? Whatever the cause you are left without any doubt that for the next sixty minutes you are in for a show that is going to be camp and dirty.

Dead Royal, which has concluded its run at Oval House theatre makes use of original quotes drawn from interviews with Wallis Simpson and Diana Spencer.  The premise is that in 1981 on the eve of the royal wedding, Wallis invites Diana to warn her to flee the impending marriage - before she too is considered someone willing to crawl over broken glass to grab a royal title.

Chris Ioan Roberts performs both roles. Here Wallis is like a faded southern belle, forgetting the names of the help, while Diana is a bit thick, finding it too hard to read a book so she spends all day making it look like the book has been read.

With frequent pop culture references, mix tapes and video recordings the work draws on what is known (or purportedly known) about the two as Roberts moves about a gaudy room that has overdosed in eighties pastels and sickly sweet perfume.

Wallis and the rest of the Royal Family get more barbs thrown at them than Diana (perhaps it is still too soon to be making the same sort of deeply offensive and vulgar observations about her).

It is a fascinating premise although part through I did wonder whether it would have more impact if the dual roles were played by a woman.

Still the piece is less about the women depicted and more about their enduring legacy as icons of their age. Look out for where it goes next. But steer clear of the truffles and seafood.


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