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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

No small parts: Friend (The One With Gunther) @onewithgunther

Suppose you have neither the time nor the intellect to sit through 236 episodes of Friends on Netflix. In that case, thankfully, writer and performer Brendan Murphy distils the ten seasons into his show, Friend (The One With Gunther), as told by Gunther, that guy who manages the coffee shop.

The coffee shop is where much of the action of the show takes place. It's a strange location that looks like the show's creators couldn't work out whether it should be a bar, a diner or somebody's living room. But as acknowledged here, Gunther was there (albeit more prominently from season two), and so he is the best man to give his view on the goings on. And since the Friends characters always talked so loudly in the coffee shop, he could hear everything.It's part recap and part piss-take. The latter suits if you missed all ten series of the primarily white, often homophobic yet still curiously popular series. 

Murphy takes us back to a different time and place. The nineties. Before smart phones, high-speed internet and not as much choice about what to watch on television. With a series of recaps, audience participation and songs, he covers the ten seasons of Friends. No cliche or supporting character is overlooked as he reimagines the show from the perspective of Gunther. 

Murphy, who was previously in the the hilarious The Crown Dual makes Gunther much more fun here. Particularly when compared to the best of moments you can see on YouTube. But maybe that's because apart from never caring about the show, he's prodding us to think about why certain shows capture the mood of the time. 

Written and performed by Brendan Murphy and directed by Hamish MacDougall, Friend (The One With Gunther) is available to stream on Stream Theatre until the weekend and then available on Demand from next week until the 25 July. Even if you can’t stand watching Friends, it’s worth a look. 

Live shows may be coming (when eventually permitted), and check the website for details.

Photos by Steve Ullathorne

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