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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

Will you still love me tomorrow: The Woods @swkplay

In The Woods, conversations drift into seemingly random discussions about seagulls, raccoons, or aliens. Perhaps it's due to the isolation from being set in a remote cabin. But it's also a heterosexual play, so that means there's a man, woman and inevitable conflict. But even if there aren't any surprises in this revival of David Mamet's 1977 work, the performances and the staging keep you focussed on it like you're a voyeur in the proceedings. It's currently playing at the Southwark Playhouse. 

The Woods is set entirely at a secluded cabin on the porch of a summer house. It's early September, and Nick seems to have been keen on taking things to the next level with Ruth. Ruth seems keen too since she took the trouble to buy a gift for Nick. But slowly, from Dusk through the night, things begin to unravel. Things that are banal and trivial become blown out of proportion. Sex becomes complicated, and ultimately there's an outburst that takes everything past a point of no return. 

The rambling discussions can be frustrating at times. But set during a time without mobile phones, social media or even a television, it's entirely plausible that this is all people did talk about in circa 1977. And among the idle chatter, the recurring themes of the passing of time, distrust and the call of death emerge. 

So in this piece, how it is said is more important than what is said. And as the sparing couple Ruth and Nick, Francesca Carpanini and Sam Frenchum hold interest throughout. Carpanini is making her UK theatre debut, and it is an inspired pairing. You feel the tension and uncertainties from the outset. 

There are a few laughs along the way. But it's more a piece to think out loud about rather than laugh out loud. And if you're looking for date night play, it just might be the piece to have a thought-provoking discussion about the future of your relationship over a post-show dinner. After all, it's a 90-minute show. 

Directed by Russell Bolam, The Woods by David Mamet runs at the Southwark Playhouse until 26 March.


Photos by Pamela Raith 

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