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Kafka-ish: Kafka @Finborough

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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

Double Indemnity: The Coral @ Finborough

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Coral can weather all sorts of undersea turbulence. Small and adaptable, it survives in its watery world. And so 100 years from when it last performed in the UK, we have The Coral. A piece about the forces of capitalism in a dystopian dog-eat-dog world. It's currently playing at the Finborough Theatre. Whether it has survived the forces of change over the last 100 years might be a topic of post-theatre debate on your way home.

There are no names in the piece. There are just people with characteristics such as the secretary, the daughters and the millionaire. The focus of the piece is on the millionaire. A play from 100 years ago will not keep up with inflation, but he is wealthy and powerful in this world. It is also a dangerous world. And so he also uses his secretary, his doppelgänger, so he can be everywhere while also sitting back on his yacht with his daughters. 

But besides the troubles at his factories and pamphlets calling for change, he has other problems. When his daughters decide to take matters into their own hands and join with the workers, doing (god forbid) manual labour, he has to take desperate measures. 

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It's a simple production focusing on a dark and dystopian world full of shadows and harsh light. The doppelgänger is depicted with his face covered which is more unsettling than fun. However, it's more fun exploring the absurdity of it all, such as when the family are waiting for a cargo ship to pass by so they can pick up the eldest daughter, who was working on it as part of the crew. There are many potential comic moments here, but we don't always see them. 

Nevertheless, it is a fascinating piece that comes into sharper focus in the second half, where the motives of the man who has everything become more apparent. Just pity the poor body doubles of the rich and powerful. Hopefully, they are paid well nowadays for the trouble of it all. 

Directed by Emily Louizou and from Collide Theatre, a London-based female-led theatre company, The Coral is at the Finborough Theatre until 29 October. 

⭐️⭐️⭐️


Photos by Marshall Stay

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