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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

Dangerous liaisons: The Wasp

The Wasp is the perfect antidote to all that Christmas cheer. A tense, psychological thriller with a story that keeps you guessing where it is going to head to next.

It is playing downstairs at the Trafalgar Studios for those who dare to see it.

Written by Morgan Lloyd Malcolm, the story is about two women who were once school friends, but drifted apart. For good reason. Twenty years on Carla is living hand to mouth, raising four children with a fifth on its way. Heather has a successful career, a husband and a beautiful home. Heather has got in touch with Carla through social media, and with a wad of cash asks her to kill her husband.

And there begins the tale of schoolyard bullying, betrayal and revenge. What is fascinating about the piece is how your sympathies shift as each new piece of information is revealed. Humour also helps to release the tension.

The production gives subtle clues about where things are heading. At one point I found myself thinking that knife is way too big to be just cutting that madeira cake…

The performances by the two leads also add a touch of credibility (and a lot of class) to this piece. MyAnna Burning is Carla. She is a rough, chain smoking pregnant woman with a brutal past. Burning delivers a sympathetic performance of a woman who seems to have moved on from her darker days.

Laura Donnelly is Heather. She is the cold and unfeeling woman, bullied at school to the point of cruelty and delivers a mesmerising portrayal of  a person trapped in the past.

To give anything further away would be cruel. The intimate space of Trafalgar Studios downstairs, the subject matter, and an awful lot of chain smoking (this piece along with Hangmen must hold the current record for the most amount of onstage smoking), adds to the tension.

Social media also plays a key part in the story. As a tool to to stalk former classmates online, it may make you want to check just who you are friends with online when you get home from the theatre. Just in case…

The Wasp is playing at Trafalgar Studios through to 16 January. The production is part of the Hampstead Theatre at the Trafalgar Studios alongside Four Minutes Twelve Seconds by James Fritz. Don’t miss it.


Photo credits: Production photos by Ikin Yum

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