Malthouse Theatre, Sydney Theatre Company and Thinice
18 August 2010
Merlyn Thearte, CUB Malthouse
to 4 September 2010
Director Mattew Lutton says, "The writings of Kafka create an addictive riddle of the soul that has no solution." I am shamed to admit that I haven't read Kafka, so I'm not sure if this stage version of The Trial is indeed Kafkaesque.
With a script by Louise Fox, sound by Kelly Ryall, lighting by Paul Jackson and wonderful actors like Ewen Leslie, Peter Houghton, John Gaden and Rita Kalnejais on the stage, there's a whole heap of consistent greatness to enjoy in this production. And Lutton's direction balances threat and comedy, while maintaining a sometimes manic pace that should be keeping us on the edges of our seat.
Kafta readers tell me that this pace pushed away the threat and tension that make his writing so addictive. I found that the pace kept me interested, but not engaged. Each scene was exactly what it should be, but as a whole the work felt fragmented, despite the terrific scene transitions with the best use of a revolve I've seen in a long time.
But for me, the ending was on the stage from the beginning and no one in this world had any belief or hope of a happy or even mediocre ending. Even if dreams are futile for Kafka, it is our hope and the possibility of a better life that makes every one of us get out of bed each day. We need a glimpse of hope to draw us through a story. From the moment Josef K wakes up to find thugs in his room, he knows where he's going to be in a year's time. There's no riddle because everyone knows the answer. If he doesn't have hope and no one he meets has hope, what hope does an audience have to care?
photo by Jeff Busby
This review appears on AussieTheatre.com