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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

Summer loving: The Lady With A Dog @TabardTheatreUK

The first flicker of love, marriage and commitment are the subjects of The Lady With a Dog. Chekhov’s summer romance in Yalta is updated to 1920s Britain and France by writer and director Mark Giesser. But the performances and brisk pace capture the fantasy and romance of the story. It’s currently playing at the Tabard Theatre after a successful run at the White Bear Theatre.

It opens with the lady and her (imagined) Pomeranian dog being eyed up by Damian Granville (Richard Lynson). He’s a London-based banker on holiday alone in Scotland. His plan is to get her attention by feeding the dog a few biscuits before working his charm on the lady. He’s also married but it’s a thoroughly modern one where his wife allows him to holiday alone in search of other women. But the lady Anne Dennis (Beth Burrows) is also married and holidaying alone due to her husband’s work.

Jusxtaposed with their aquaintance are unhappy conversations with their real partners. Soon an attraction develops between the two and they find themselves falling in love for the first time. When Anne has to return to Wiltshire they assume at first they’ll never meet again. But their continued feelings make them go looking for each other. 

The cast bring to life this story with their nuanced and tender performances. Duncan Macinnes and Laura Glover are the loveless spouses of the two. They also serve well to explain the characters with their nagging and disinterest. In the end you feel this is a meditation on fantasy and escapism as much as it is about rediscovering life. 

The Art Deco set by Oscar Selfridge keeps the action rooted in the interwar period. It’s too bad the character of Beth wasn’t travelling with a more sedate dog. Working with a real life Pomeranian onstage would be a theatrical disaster. But it was nicely imagined throughout the piece. 

Directed by Mark Giesser, The Lady With A Dog is at the Tabard Theatre until 7 April

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Photos by Andreas Lambis

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