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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

Salty romance: Salt-Water Moon @finborough

Salt-Water Moon, currently playing at the Finborough Theatre, is like watching a feel-good romantic comedy. Albeit one set in Newfoundland in 1926. You may know where the piece is heading. After all, it is part of a series of plays with the same characters by playwright David French. But it’s the journey of getting there that matters. There’s a tenderness to the story brought to life by two charismatic performances that will have you on the edge of your seat, wondering what will happen next. And not just because of the necessity to sit five abreast on the Finborough’s bench seats. 

It’s a clear night in Coley’s Point, Newfoundland, a quiet and remote fishing village, in 1926. Mary Snow is stargazing, waiting for her fiancé to return. However, she is interrupted by the unexpected return of Jacob Mercer. He had left her to go to Toronto a year earlier without even a goodbye, and he seemed determined to win her back. 

What then unfolds from small talk and idle chatter about the stars is a battle of wills against a backdrop of an isolated town that still is feeling the effects of its participation in the First World War. The economic effects of the war have forced Mary to seek an engagement to give her financial security. Jacob probably left to seek his fortune in Toronto. 

But here we find them back together for one night only. There is an urgency in this piece underscored by circumstance, the imminent return of Mary’s suitor and the performances. Joseph Potter is a charismatic and endearing  Jacob with his alternating charm, serenading and scrappy manner. Bryony Miller is a poised Mary. But believable in her economic position and ability to offer the 1920s equivalent of a  devastating put-down. 

Mim Houghton’s simple production of lightbulbs, a bench and mulch, with Neill Brinkworth’s lighting, is evocative of the summer house in Coley’s Point. You feel like you are in the garden with the pair rather than upstairs from a closed pub on a busy London road.

As a piece that captures a time and place and a spirit of troubled young love, it’s an entertaining opener for the new year.

Directed by Peter Kavanagh, Salt-Water Moon is having its UK premiere at the Finborough Theatre and is playing now until 28 January.


Production photos by Lucy Hayes

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