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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

The woke and the trolling: Scrounger @Finborough

Athena Stevens

Athena Stevens takes her experiences with an airline that damaged her wheelchair and refused to pay for a replacement into a sharp and an incisive piece on how discrimination affects disabled people. The incident led to her confinement in her flat in Elephant and Castle for months while she tweeted about the experience and gained media attention. And was called a scrounger by the usual band of internet trolls. It’s currently playing at the Finborough Theatre.

It's an exciting piece of storytelling that puts you in her shoes. Stevens is a detailed storyteller, and she expertly covers the everyday ordeals that people with disabilities face. From the passive aggressive remarks uttered by flight attendants to friends who have trouble thinking that Elephant and Castle is a part of central London. It's all told with humour, warmth and a healthy amount of outrage.

Athena Stevens and Leigh Quinn
While the case was eventually settled, she explains as far as her non-disclosure agreement allows, how people, including liberal-minded theatregoers, are accomplices in disability discrimination. It seems that in the era of woke, it doesn't always translate into woke actions.

She is assisted by Leigh Quinn who plays a series of supporting characters. What emerges is of conflict avoiding able-bodied people, poorly written regulations and general ignorance and indifference.

Adding to the intensity of the story is the inventive use of sound effects from sound designer Julian Starr, and directed by Lily McLeish, the piece moves through events quickly.

You don't need to look far to see disability discrimination in the real world either. The Finborough Theatre no longer has accessible toilets since the Finborough Arms pub (which share the building) ripped them out. There is now a small kitchen serving bog-standard food in their place. Welcome to 2020. No accessibility but plenty of chicken wings and scampi.

Scrounger is at the Finborough Theatre until 1 February. But this is a show that feels like it should have a longer life, either as a transfer or adaptation for television.


Photos by Nick Rutter

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