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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

Grief and fluff: Tiger @OmnibusTheatre

Death is something we all will face. After all, nobody gets out of here alive. But how do you get past it when grief is all you can feel? And this is the premise of Tiger, currently playing at Omnibus Theatre. It's a fascinating exploration of the stages of grief. And with a terrific cast to take you on this journey, it's an endearing and sweet story that has you engaged from the start, wondering what will happen next. 

We are introduced to Alice (Poppy Allen-Quarmby) as she gives a stand-up routine. It's not particularly funny and starts to veer into the topic of dying. Something isn't right. She used to be good at this but can't move forward. Soon, she is back in her London apartment with her partner Oli (Luke Nunn), discussing that they need to get a lodger to make ends meet. 

Oli is a doctor working night shifts at the local NHS hospital. Alice is not ready to face a return to stand up or anything. So when the first potential lodger arrives (Meg Lewis), looking slightly odd dressed in an orange suit and a long tail, she bonds instantly and asks him to move it without discussing it further with Oli. They're unsure what his name is, so they give him the name of Tiger. Tiger is full of optimism, endless facts, and knock-knock jokes. Some of them are funny (at least to some audience members the night I saw it, who let out loud chuckles after them). 

But the simple forays into silliness may be concealing and delaying facing some harsher realities. And soon, Alice's plight, her struggle with loss and her mental health come to the fore. 

Joe Eyre's play tackles the subject of mental health and grief with a playfulness and light touch. And while perhaps a little long, the cast also gives this piece a compelling human touch with their sensitive and often comic portrayals.  

It's a simple production set in the traverse, with a fluffy-looking stage that had me initially mistake the characters for furries. There's more to it than that, but you should beware of the floating polyester kicked up as the actors move across it if you're sitting in the front row. Nobody needs to be eating that sort of thing. 

Directed by Myles O'Gorman, Tiger continues at Omnibus Theatre until 2 December. 


Photos by Harry Elletson

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