Adapted by People Zoo Productions, as part of the Rose Bruford College season at Summerhall, Franz Kafka’s ultimate tale of paranoia and alienation is presented here as an absurd farce with the volume cranked up to eleven. On his 30th birthday, Josef K (William J Holstead) wakes one morning to find himself under arrest. He has no idea what his supposed crime is or even exactly who is accusing him, but he has embarked on a slippery downward path that will eventually lead him to his own destruction.
This stylish and thought-provoking production has already won a couple of prestigious awards at this year’s Manchester Fringe Festival and it’s easy to see why. There are elements of physical theatre here (the stage combat is particularly assured) and characters are played in a grotesque, almost cartoonish fashion. The scene in which K is instructed to beat three teenage girls in order to prove his innocence is particularly chilling. I liked the simple but effective staging of the story and the way in which the six strong cast switched effortlessly from character to character, providing their own musical accompaniment along the way.
It’s always daunting to take on such a famous work but People Zoo rise to the challenge. This powerful and effective play, ably directed by Craig Sanders, is definitely one to watch at this year’s fringe.