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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

Travelin' Through: Broken Toys @CervantesTheatr

Things are a bit different at the Cervantes Theatre when you see Broken Toys. You enter through the upstairs dressing rooms and go down to the theatre. It is a circuitous route, much like the story of Marion. You end up in the same place but have taken a different journey. And like what the old prostitute said. It's not the work but the stairs. And there before you is the theatre, but not entirely as I recall it. It feels like an intimate cabaret venue with tables and a shiny stage.

And there we are introduced to Marion. Marion grew up in a small town during the Franco regime. A place where looking a bit different could make you the subject of gossip and a threat to your life. And despite being assigned male at birth and the attempts of family and father figures, she was an outsider in her town. 

And so Marion sets off on a journey to the city. And in the shadows, she finds a place to hide. But with guidance from drag performer Dorian Delacroix begins to find her voice. Her journey ultimately takes her back to where she came from. 

It's a simple story boosted by engaging performances and a sense of time and place. Hayley Rose gives a nuanced performance as the unsure Marion, who is learning to become herself. So much that you feel like you are with her on this personal journey. As drag performer Dorin, Guy Woolf lights up the stage, especially when performing two cabaret songs in the piece. Miles Molan plays various supporting characters in Marion's life, including her love interests.

Small steps become significant, profound movements. And there's a reminder that politicians are eroding trans rights, such as those who espouse white Christian nationalism—a unique blend of racism, conspiracy, paranoia, wedge issues and a fascination with Russia. While most of it is in the  United States, there are the usual suspects and backers worldwide. A handy reminder that people are working hard to take away the rights and freedoms of others. 

Directed by Raymi Ortuste Quiroga, written by Carolina Román and translated by L. Finch, Broken Toys is at the Cervantes Theatre during Pride Month until 1 July.


Photos by Elena Molina Martínez

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