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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

Spring Awakenings: Love Loss and Chianti @Riverside London

Death and desertion are on the menu in Love Loss and Chianti. A dramatisation of the poems A Scattering and The Song of Lunch by Christopher Reid. Grief and fantasy are explored at first for drama and then for comedy. It’s not always successful in the translation from poetry to stage. But watchable for the performances and staging at the Riverside Studios.

The first half, A Scattering, was Reid’s response to the death of his wife, Lucinda. Told in four parts, with the first part written while she was still alive, the poems won the Cost Book Prize in 2010. But on stage, it feels cold and unengaging. Perhaps there are too many distractions with events as the stages of dying, death and loss are explored. It might have been more engrossing if he just sat on a chair and told to the audience.

Fortunately, things pick up in the Song of Lunch in the second half, which is centred around a man’s attempt to connect with an old flame over lunch. Memories conspire to build a fantasy that bears little resemblance to the reality. The anticipation, the missed cues and the misunderstandings are deployed to witty effect as the lunch veers from one disaster to another. The projected animations by Charles Peattie portray a dizzying array of complexities as the man becomes lost in himself. And the lunch becomes a battle of epic proportions between the mind and reality.

As the man, Robert Bathurst, who is on stage for most of the ninety minutes is engaging as both the grieving man and the fantasist has-been. Rebecca Johnson plays his dying wife and the increasingly disgusted object of his luncheon obsession.

Directed by Jason Morell, Love Loss and Chianti is at the Riverside Studios until 17 May. Worth a visit to take in the magnificent views of Hammersmith by the riverside.


Photos by Alex Harvey-Brown

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