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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

A hard rain’s gonna fall: Rain and Zoe Save The World @JSTheatre

The message in Rain and Zoe Save the World is topical and perhaps foretelling. This new play by writer Crystal Skillman sees a future in which young activists do more than block roads to protest climate change. They are taking direct action by blowing up things and taking facilities offline even if they risk their lives and become outlaws. It's currently playing at the Jermyn Street Theatre

It could be easy to dismiss the piece as a bit of a far-fetched coming of age story. But you could also see it as a harbinger of what is to come as pollution, wild weather and pandemics become part of everyday life. Something has to give, and the play suggests that a new breed of teenage activism might be the subsequent logical response. 

We open on with sixteen-year-old Zoe (Mei Henri) in her backyard. Suspended from school after an incident, she convinces her recently arrived neighbour Rain (Jordan Benjamin) to take his bike with them to drive across the country to find her mother at a protest.

But whether they find her mother or fall in love along the way is only part of the story. The other part is how they both find their voice among their past and present ghosts. 

Those expecting a conventional story about two outsiders might be frustrated by this journey. But the engaging performances, inspired production design, and terrific soundtrack (with music by Bobby Cronin) had me hooked from the outset. 

The production designed by Zoe Hurwitz is one of the most detailed ones to grace the space of this downstairs theatre. A revolve, astroturf, and a lot of imagination conjure up a road trip across America. It's beautiful to look at even before the actors take the stage. 

Directed by Hersh Ellis, Rain and Zoe Save the World is at the Jermyn Street Theatre until 12 March.


Photos by Alistair Muir

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