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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

Office romance: Venus and Adonis @RiversideLondon

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As you enter the Riverside Studios , where Christopher Hunter is performing Shakespeare's epic poem, Venus and Adonis, Hunter is already there—sitting on a bench with his attaché case, wearing a suit and writing furiously. There are papers crumpled and tossed about. It's as if he is writing the piece from a 1990s office. All that's missing is the scream of the office fax (we heard phones ringing even though that wasn't part of the performance).  Written by Shakespeare during the outbreak of the plague in 1592, it's considered to be Shakespeare's first work. It's an evocative piece about the Goddess of love and her attempts to attract the handsome and probably fit Adonis, who would prefer to go hunting.  As performed by Hunter, the age-old tale of unrequited love takes surprising twists and turns in this epic poem. Starting as the piece's writer, he becomes the characters and immerses himself in the words. Consonants fly out at you, and the suffering, the

Be a clown: Much Ado About Nothing @anticdispo

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Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing is set in rural France in the aftermath of World War II in this lively interpretation by Antic Disposition. The war may be over but the battle of the sexes and battle over rivalries is just about to begin. It’s currently playing at Grays Inn Hall.  Love gone wrong, mistaken identity and a infidelity make up this piece. And there’s not a moment to lose in this adaption that moves through the story at a fast pace with music, mirth and merriment. And with a nod to the physical comedy of Jacques Tati, there’s much clowning about too in this company consisting of English and French actors. As the unlikely lovers, Nicholas Osmond as Benedick and Chiraz Aïch as Béatrice strike the right balance with the physical and verbal humour of the piece. Alfie Webster makes the most of the brief yet dark character Don John who sets in motion much of the drama.  Alexander Varey and Florian’s Andersen are also a delight as the intense young lovers, Claudio and Hero. Th

Mrs Lovett’s forefather: Titus Andronicus @arrowsandtraps @newwimbstudio

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Shakespeare’s gory Elizabethan shocker Titus Andronicus is less a tragedy than a blood soaked exercise in revenge. But it is given a slick (and slightly gory) updating by Arrows and Traps in this production currently playing at the New Wimbledon Theatre studio space. Heads in plastic bags, severed hands, twitter-based uprisings  combine in this production that borrows from a range of current trends to tell this tale of horror and revenge. But the cast assembled mostly keep the focus on the story for a brisk two hours, keeping a fine balance between the comic, creepy and sadistic elements at the heart of the story.

Compelling tragedies: Otello

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Opening night of Verdi's Otello at the Royal Opera House was a thrilling affair. Passion, rage and jealousy explode from this piece from the start. Conductor  Antonio Pappano  makes the most of both the drama and tenderness of the piece as it ebbs and flows. One moment of intensity and emotion gives way to another so delicate and light. Aleksandrs Antonenko is terrific in the title role as the doomed hero and strikes the right balance and tone between tenderness and fury that makes the drama coherent and believable. There was some fine music making between him and Anja Harteros, who plays Desmemona his wife, as they move from a delicate love duet towards a darker sinister end. It is hard to believe that within two hours they sing about love and then damnation, but here they are complimentary. Lucio Gallo was sublime as the evil Iago who orchestrates it all. At the curtain it was hard to tell whether cheering or hissing at his evil brilliance would have been more appropriate