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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

Spooky things at night: Benighted @ORLTheatre

Benighted is a taut Christmas thriller that is a welcome relief for anyone who doesn't buy into all that cheer this time of year. Or pantomimes. There is thunder, a spooky house and dark secrets. It's currently playing at The Old Red Lion Theatre.

It is a dark and stormy night. And close to Christmas. A car has broken down and there is a rising flood. Three people seek shelter from the weather in a gloomy mansion. But all is not what it seems and their hosts, the mysterious Femm family, are not particularly hospitable. As others arriving seeking shelter from the rain the group begin to wonder if they will make it through the night.

First published in 1927, this early novel by J.B. Priestley was adapted for the screen by James Whale in the 1932 as The Old Dark House. It was the original horror picture movie that would inspire many others and be the blueprint for future stories. Including the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

It has been adapted for stage by Duncan Gates. Nobody strips down to their underwear here (or breaks into song). But there is enough creepiness with clever lighting and sound effects to keep you on the edge.

As the Waverton's who get stranded by the storm, Harrie Hayes and Tom Machell capture the spirit of a modern married couple. As Roger Penderel, who is travelling with the Wavertons, Matt Maltby is the seemingly happy and carefree single man with demons of his own to confront.

This is a resourceful production. There is a simple door or a jagged corner to evoke the mansion. And the confined space of the theatre is transformed by designer Gregor Donnelly into a place of dark spaces and creaking doors. The lighting by Zia Bergin-Holly and Sound by David Gregor also is enough to make you jolt out of your seat occasionally too.

As the flood subsides and the rain clears, perhaps things start to sag as the tension shifts, but it's an adventure all the same. And it is great to see the source material that inspired so many other stories.

Directed by Stephen Whitson, Benighted is at The Old Red Lion theatre until 7 January.


Photos by Chris Gardner

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