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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

Trolling: A Very, Very, Very Dark Matter @_BridgeTheatre

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Trolling, the art of making random, unfounded and controversial comments to provoke an immediate emotional reaction is the backbone of today’s social media. But in A Very, Very, Very Dark Matter, Martin McDonagh has decided to extend it to the theatre. Daring you to walk out in disgust with his twist on the lives of Charles Dickens and Hans Christian Andersen. He’s out to knock these men off their pedestals. Just in time for Christmas. But the show does what it says on the tin. Those who can stomach this grim stuff might walk away with something to think about. It’s having its world premiere at The Bridge Theatre . The premise is that Hans Christian Andersen has been keeping a captured Pygmy woman he calls Marjory from the Congo in his attic. She writes his stories. He isn’t particularly talented in his own right. Hans as played by Jim Broadbent also comes across as a Jimmy Saville-like entertainer. With only a passing interest in humanity. Marjory‘s played by Johnetta Eula’Mae Ackles.

This mean and unpleasant land: Allelujah! @_BridgeTheatre

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Watching Alan Bennett’s Allelujah! at the Bridge Theatre , you can’t help but admire him for putting it up his fellow Englishmen. After all he’s a national treasure, living legend, man of letters, all round octogenarian. And here’s an angry play about how this country doesn’t care. It neglects its elderly, it causes hardship for immigrants and so on. There’s a long list of grievances that the bigoted press have not unnoticed in their reviews. But it’s presented with all the charm and wit Bennett can muster. You can feel the irony as he evokes the noble yesteryear, contrasting it with the neglect of today.  A nurse quips that the patients are living long enough to form a choir. But it’s a performance nobody sees. Even as the cast work their way through an increasingly elaborate set of musical numbers. It’s as if Bennett’s making the case to the audience that you’re having such a darn good time with the performers why keep putting your old folks on the scrap heap? Life for the elderly w

Living pretty: Nightfall @_Bridgetheatre

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Living in the country never looked better than in the sumptuous production of Nightfall. This play about life in rural Hampshire is currently playing at the Bridge Theatre . Desginer Rae Smith has created a farm backdrop that is beauty to behold even before any of the actors speak. Which is just as well since the night I saw it the show was delayed as one of the actors was caught in a very urban predicament: delays on the London transport network. Chis Davey’s lighting also evokes the sunsets over Hampshire. But looks are deceiving as nobody wants to be there. Dad’s dead and left a pile of debt. The son, Ryan (Sion Daniel Young) is trying to make the farm work by siphoning off oil from a pipeline that cuts through the property. His best mate Pete (Ukweli Roach) is out of and jail helping him with his criminal enterprise.  The daughter, Lou (Ophelia Lovibond) is drifting in and out of jobs and a relationship. And mum (Claire Skinner) would rather just lounge about, barefoot, drinking a