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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

Bad girl: Boy Parts @sohotheatre

Production photo - email projected on screen with Aimee Kelly behind

In these angry times, an angry anti-heroine is a cathartic release, even if you’re not quite sure what the anger is about. This stylish adaptation of Eliza Clark's Boy Parts with a charismatic performance by Aimée Kelly makes it engaging. And while we don't see the gore, with each scene, there's a slight dread as to what gruesome turn of events s is going to happen next in this piece, which takes Fleabag and adds a touch of American Psycho nonchalance. It's currently playing at the Soho Theatre

I was unfamiliar with the book's runaway success and the TikTok phenomenon, where people #booktok reviews of the piece under flattering lighting and a series of jump cuts. However, a quick cursory glance at the material shows the play has captured all the best bits in vivid detail, particularly in its descriptions of men. There's Ryan, the bar manager, with his "big thick neck and tiny pea head, thinning hair." But people may have mistaken some of these for comic takedowns rather than factual depictions of English people.

Production photo - Aimee Kelly

But anyway. We are introduced to Irina, and it's soon clear that she's manipulative, toxic and generally not nice. She likes to photograph young men in states of undress or distress. And her work catches the eye of an edgy Hackney gallery. It's the chance to make a name for herself after a setback. But the gallery is after edgier stuff, so she needs to up her game and find the proper subject matter and splatter to make the exhibition, returning to past works and encounters. As the opening to the exhibition approaches, you're left unsure what is fantasy or reality. 

Translated to the stage with Kelly's strong performance, you are drawn into her world and ready to forgive her for whatever she says. Even when she spews the darkest innermost thoughts out at you, it's all a very high-concept premise about turning the male gaze on its head. But apart from being a bad girl, you are left with the same gore that's gone before. 

Maybe one day, there will be a compelling drama about a female photographer who photographs her male subjects without the need to shove a bottle up their arse. Until then, enjoy the ride. Assuming that you can stomach it. 

Directed by Sara Joyce and written by Gill Greer, Boy Parts is at Soho Theatre until 25 November. 


Production photo - Aimee Kelly on the floor

Photos by Joe Twigg

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